Good Monday Afternoon to this week 43 of 2021
Acts 3:21 says that God’s ultimate goal is the “restoration of all things.” We hear so much about freedom of choice, of body, of government and much more, that motivates me to look a little behind or around this topic of freedom.
A few thoughts from Art Lindsley.
Throughout human history, people of all cultures have sought freedom. Some have emphasized inner spiritual or emotional freedom, and others freedom from external restraints (such as slavery or political freedom). Hindus seek an experience of oneness with the universe that frees them from the illusion of this world of distinction. Buddhists seek enlightenment that involves a detachment from desiring anything in this world. Atheists want to be free from the constraints of any objective moral rules.
In the political arena, there are a variety of liberation theologies. Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote his Theology of Liberation with a focus on the political and economic situation in Latin America. James Cone wrote A Black Theology of Liberation to develop a black theology that identified with the oppressed. Others have developed feminist liberation theology that focuses on cultural problems that have limited women’s freedom. Most of the above perspectives involve freedom from constraints but are not clear about what the liberated situation would look like.
Many people in our culture believe freedom to be a lack of norms, rules, or laws restraining us from doing what we want to do or be.
In the Old Testament, freedom was primarily freedom from slavery.
This freedom was often referenced in the prophets. Jesus’s inaugural sermon echoed this theme from Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
and freedom to the prisoners
There is a consistent thread through the Old Testament pointing to the need for inner and spiritual renewal.
The predominant note of the New Testament is not political freedom but freedom in Christ from bondage to sin, the Law, the old man, and death. It is not that political freedom or freedom from slavery was unimportant but that there was even deeper bondage that had to be overcome first of all. The problem is that even if you were politically free you could still be in bondage.
The emphasis of the New Testament is not political, economic, or religious freedom. However, there is a sense in which we can say, as we saw in the Old Testament, that new inner freedom eventually leads to consequences in the outer world.
Jesus did not fight, as some expected the Messiah to do, for a violent revolutionary overthrow of the Romans.
The inner freedom Christ came to bring has often been the garden out of which other freedoms grow.
Redemption, above all, applies to all of life. Not only are we redeemed from our sin (personal), but we are brought into a new community.
Freedom is not autonomy or doing what you feel like doing without any constraints.
Freedom involves a structure that allows us to be free to be what we are created to be.
Freedom is within the context of Law. The moral Law of Jesus gives us a guide to know how to live and to love.
We are truly free when we know the truth about ourselves and the world. This means throwing off the lies and deceptions to which we are so often captive.
Inner renewal often leads to outer consequences and renewal of the land.
The Bible doesn’t prescribe one type of government but freedom (political, economic, and religious) is consistent with (not contradictory to) the Bible.
Inner freedom inevitably drives toward outer freedom. Inner and outer freedoms are the most ideal state for human beings (Micah 4:4).
God will establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places.
They’ll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other quit learning how to kill one another.
Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden.
When God says so, he means what he says.
Wishing you a good week with much of that inner freedom!