Yes, we call this life. It's the world in which we live, with all its simplicities and complexities. Stop and think about the good in this list - from happiness to love. How do these things make you feel? Now think of the "not so good" part of the list - from depression to unfaithful friends. Do you feel hurt . . . even imprisoned? The fact is, there are many choices and experiences in our lives that enslave us - that pull us down. Yet there are many good things that set us free . . . or at least they feel like they set us free . . . for a time.
So here's the question: how do we attain lasting freedom?
I listen to talk radio all the time as I take my kids (Heidi and Luke) to school in Longview and Kelso. It drives them crazy - I know. Nevertheless, as I drive I hear words like this: "we are losing our freedom in this country!" Hmm . . . could be. Freedom, at least political freedom, is something we have to fight for and work for in our lives. It does not come easily. However, I want to suggest that a more fundamental issue for humanity is not even what is commonly referred to as religious freedom. Religious freedom, as it is spoken of in our media and classrooms, is the freedom to choose your faith. That is, religious freedom, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, means you are free to choose your fundamental trust. These are good things, and we need to fight for them, but there is one freedom that the world cannot understand. There is one freedom that the world cannot see because the world is in darkness.
I'm talking about inner freedom - the freedom in the self that cannot be taken away. This is a lasting freedom. This is a freedom that endures all circumstances. This is a freedom that cries out, "They can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul!" What is this inner freedom, or to put it another way, what is its nature? It is fundamentally this: freedom from sin. Of course, the word "sin" in the public square has received a bad rap. People say that sin is just what the Church tells you what to do or not to do. "Sin is a human construct," they claim. But sin is not a human construct. Sin is an inner prison that has come upon humanity to keep people from doing what they want to do or to force them to do what they do not want to do. It's a prison, and if you have not been set free from it's grip, it does and will control you.
So because we are sinners, we enslave ourselves. We cannot do otherwise, because it is far more about "who we are" than about "what we do." So how do we attain that inner freedom - the freedom that lasts? Answer: through our Friend who loves us. You see, I have written of four lessons on friendship, and the truth is, friendship lessons can go on and on. There are myriads and myriads of them because they are lessons about healthy relationships. Is there anything more important? But I want to end this series on friendship with a fifth lesson: The ultimate Friend is the One who sets us free.
Why do you think Jesus died? Do you think it's only about heaven? No friend, His death is about you. He died to sin so that you can be set free, and if you don't know what this means, you need to begin to seek.