There is a theme in freedom that it must be declared before it is achieved. American’s celebrate July 4 as Independence day but is it actually when our forefathers declared independence which did not come until the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and after a great cost was paid between those points in time.
When Moses tells Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he is essentially declaring their independence but there’s all sorts of activity that occurs before they are actually free from Egyptian rule. And after freedom from Egypt is obtained, there is so much more they go through to learn how to live free. It was easy to understand what it would be like to be free from Egypt but not so easy to know what it would be like to be free to serve God as His people – forty years in the wilderness and then all that effort to secure the promised land, which never really fully occurred.
The Israelites were told by God to celebrate a ritual every 50 years called Jubilee. It was a year for freedom where each person was to set slaves free, to free their brothers and sisters from any debts, to return to the freedom to God alone and his economy – but they never celebrated Jubilee.
Jesus walked into his home-town church near the beginning of his ministry and reads from the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
then after reading this, he tells them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. He is literally declaring Jubilee and the response of his nearest friends and neighbors who had known him all his life is rejection – to the point of not only driving him out of town, but also trying to throw him off a cliff. Wow! Freedom is an explosive topic.
It is strange though – that Jesus, who has the power to secure instantly the freedom he wants only declares it. Why is this? When the American forefathers declared independence, they invited all Americans into the drama to gain freedom. Jesus invites us into the drama to gain freedom too – not from an external power but to his internal reality in our lives.
In believing that his spirit has become one with our own and living in pursuit of this incarnational reality, we also find the freedom from seeming external realities. We can’t control our world externally but the freedom Jesus brings cannot be taken away if we don’t allow it. It is treasure where moth and rust do not destroy, not in heaven only, but in our hearts where the King of Heaven already resides for those who’ve allowed him in.
This is all nice to say but hard to do. Every moment here, our humanity, our world and God’s enemies try to point us to the scenes around us as evidence of the futility of loving God and others. David said in the Psalm – speaking of Jesus prophetically:
You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;
now rule, though surrounded by enemies! Psalms 110:2 Message
When Jesus makes us free, we are free indeed! It is not just a declaration. It is real freedom – we are truly like him, sons and daughters of God, princes and princesses. We get confused and think this must mean later since we are still being told we are slaves because we are still surrounded by enemies. But who we are is not dictated by where we are. We need to learn to ignore the temporary things of this world and keep our eyes on the son of God indwelling our life. We, with him, are noble children of the King of all kings, God Most High. So what if we are surrounded by enemies. We are free!
- Do you believe you are really FREE? If you don’t, whose voice are you listening to?
- Can you see that Christianity is more about our NOBLE Identity than the cheap religious substitute of morality?
- If you aren’t free, who are you enslaved to? Who can stand against God?
- Consider writing your own declaration of independence in agreement with Jesus.