TALK 4 – The Defeat of Freedom
The cry for freedom has rung down through the corridors of time. ‘Let my people go’ has been the cry of many who have suffered in slavery.
Human trafficking is not new. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a British politician whose life was transformed by the Gospel. The love of Christ motivated him to eradicate the African slave trade which was de-humanising his fellow-humans that God loved. With great courage and through the trials and struggles to get the Abolition of Slavery Bill through Parliament, it passed 4 days before his death. Born in 1851, an Irish Christian woman was called by God to India where she dared to challenge the temple slavery where children were forced to ‘marry’ Brahmin temple priests. Amy Carmichael rescued children and built a mission station in Dohnavur where children discovered freedom in Christ. Down through history, men and women of God who love Christ above all else, were convinced that only the truth and power of the Gospel could set people truly free.
Many years earlier, the Psalmist said “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31) Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi, who wrote “This Book Changed Everything”, shows that the Bible was foundational to the rise of western civilization where the notion of human dignity, equality and freedom transformed societies.
But our children are part of a cultural revolution that seeks to enculturate them into a different way of life. In a post-truth culture, freedom is understood to be unfettered autonomy, where the individual is free to do as they want and be whatever they want. The current “wisdom” is one must forget what parents, church or school think of you. Not even your physical body can define whether you are male or female. In the search for authenticity, your ever-changing desire, you can choose your gender. Each individual is to be free to define their identity and construct life and relationships as they choose. This primacy of the individual strikes at the heart of humanity designed for worship of the living God and for relationship. Living independently from our Creator is what the Bible calls sIn and the consequences are alienation, cultural chaos and confusion, broken relationships and a sense of meaningless. Many of our children are suffering from increased anxiety and being influenced by groups using political power or force in the name of freedom. We are witnessing the defeat of freedom in the name of freedom because without truth there can be no real freedom. And freedom must first happen in the human heart.
True freedom is found in a Person. Only the Gospel delivers us from the penalty and power of sin. CS Lewis aptly said “Man is now a horror to God and himself … ill-adapted to the universe … because he has made himself so by the abuse of his free will.” (Lewis, 1970, p. 69) Forgiveness frees our present and future from the burden of the past. Repentance means facing the reality of our lives before God, turning from going our own way and putting our trust in Christ. We are set free from the power of sin and death and now free to become like Christ as His Spirit renews our hearts and minds. This freedom will be expressed in obedience to God’s Word (1 John 5:3) and love of neighbour (1 John 3:11).
What does true freedom look like in a school community? It is a place where the Lord’s presence will be evidenced in loving relationships, in good works and where servant leadership replaces individual autonomy.
A number of years ago, I visited a Christian school in Nepal. The students were predominantly girls from the Badi tribe – the lowest, poorest of the poor, untouchables of the Hindu Caste. Their wives and daughters had been subject to sexual subservience for hundreds of years. Many of the girls in the school had been sold into sex-slavery in Asian brothels and rescued. I can’t comprehend the degradation they had experienced. But what a difference the love of Jesus makes. They now belonged to a community that loved and valued them as unique image-bearers of God. Treated with dignity and respect, they experienced the love of Jesus through the love of their teachers and carers and other students. Their smiles lit up their faces with the joy of the Lord. They were beginning to heal from the wounds inflicted on their crushed and broken spirits. They were set free. Life now had a purpose – what would be their unique role in God’s great re-creation project?
Let us be encouraged by the words of Os Guinness
“Grant too that in rising to live as you have called us to live, we may show the world a new and different way of life that once again will free the captives and demonstrate a human way of life that is worthy of the author of life and humanity.” (Guinness, 2016, p. 89)
Grace and Peace
The Excellence Centre