The other day I had a conversation with a friend about what freedom meant. We discussed extensively about our basic needs, our ability to make choices, and what situations make us feel free. We realized that the idea of doing whatever one wants without pondering about the consequences is greatly associated with the concept of freedom. However, we disagreed with that definition. It was comforting to see how we both believed that being able to make conscious and informed decisions is an important piece of freedom. Finding someone who understands what we mean without having to explain ourselves is a breath of fresh air.
The idea of freedom remained in my mind throughout the week and I was pleasantly surprised to find that my church’s Sunday message involved the same topic, but from a very practical perspective. I enjoy how God often grabs me from my world of ideas and grounds me on a territory of reality, where ideas meet moral confrontation and hopefully generate a tangible impact in the world and in my heart. After all, isn’t God for people, for relationship, and for love?
According to the Global Slavery Index of 2016, it is estimated that over 45 million people are in some form of modern day slavery in 167 countries. While this is an overwhelming number, it is a very significant one. It means that over 45 million lives are being exploited, trapped in fear, and facing physical, verbal, and sexual abuse on a daily basis. Truth be told, for most of us this is such an overwhelming and distant reality that we find ourselves having a hard time to fully comprehend and relate to it. Thankfully, most of us reading this blog will never encounter such situations in our personal life, but we can all relate to the feelings of loss, fear, and hopelessness.
I believe that God gave us feelings as a gift to foster human connection and to prompt responsible growth and maturity. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “None of us is free until all of us are free”. As an analytical thinker, I’m tempted to distance myself and dissect the idea and historical context behind the quote. However, after 5 seconds of imagining my little sister in Elsa’s shoes (see video above), I understood that the focus of that quote isn’t what freedom means, rather, it is our shared responsibility in creating a safe environment in which all of us would benefit from freedom. In other words, it is our call to be God’s hands and feet in our lifetime, to be the solution we so long for when we hear about overwhelming realities like modern day slavery.
While most of us long to shine Christ’s light and to be intimate with Him, we seem to not know what exactly we should do to honor his purpose for us. Maybe some of us are even wondering what his purpose is and, when we encounter so much suffering in the world, regardless of wanting to or not, we might also wonder where God is in all of it.
Well, I think Matthew 25:35,36 gives us a hint about that.
” For I was an hungered, and ye gave ME meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave ME drink: I was a stranger, and ye took ME in: Naked, and ye clothed ME: I was sick, and ye visited ME: I was in prison, and ye came unto ME.”
This passage tells me that Jesus is incarnated in human need. God is close to the brokenhearted and He yearns for us to be His answer to the cries of those in need.
Isaiah 58:6-8 says, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Our faith allows us to share in the nature of the One who begat us. We become a channel of blessings when we have faith because we don’t live to simply fulfill our longings and expectations anymore. We start to live from a kingdom perspective committed to fulfill the purpose of the One whom we love because we long to be like Him and are enabled by Him to accomplish his will for us and for this world. In Him we are first transformed to transform, we are healed to heal, we are accepted to accept, we are freed to free, and we are loved to love.
Lici is a graduate student from Brazil. She is essentially an extrovert who's really bad at small talk. She serves at Skyline and loves all things blue, tasty and insightful.