Wow, how the world has changed- and our lives with it- in such a short time. It was only yesterday that we could plan a trip, travel to other states and countries and enjoy creation, family and friendships in the context of a life lived in freedom. But not anymore. For many of us, this is becoming more and more, a distant memory, shrouded in the illusion of ‘getting back to normal- whatever that means. And the narrative coming from our world leaders seems to be nothing more than empty promises.
I want to invite you for a moment, to forget all about the statistics, the theories, and the promises we’re exposed to through the various news and social media outlets. Just for a moment, forget about vaccinations, pandemics, governments, and lockdowns, and reflect on the meaning of freedom. What is freedom and, what does freedom mean for you as a human being and a follower of Christ?
From a humanistic perspective, every person has dignity and value, and the only way we recognise the fundamental worth of a person is by acknowledging and respecting their human rights. A quick Google search tells us that: Human rights are a set of principles concerned with equality and fairness. These rights recognise our freedom to make choices about our lives and to develop our potential as human beings. Human rights are about living a life free from fear, oppression, harassment, or discrimination.
These rights are outlined in 30 articles- that together- create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see here). These include the right to life, the right to a fair trial, freedom from torture, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
These human rights are the same for all people all over the world – men and women, young and old, rich, and poor, regardless of your faith, background, where you live, what you think or what you do for a living. This is what makes human rights ‘universal’.
And, as a people, we can only ‘enjoy’ our human rights if others respect those rights. Governments have a responsibility to ensure that this is available through laws and services that enable people to experience a life in which their rights are respected and protected.
Looking at the behaviours of our world leaders, I wonder if certain rights are currently not being compromised, including the freedom for life, freedom of torture and freedom of speech.
I have enjoyed freedom all my life, at least a life free of government oppression. This freedom did not come cheap either. Countless brave men and women have sacrificed much, and they have fought hard, risking life and limb for the very freedom described in the Humans Right act. In my opinion, there is no such thing as half-freedom. You are free or you are not. The fact that freedom is something that is fought for, is proven throughout our- sometimes very brutal history. It is something that requires risk, and that risk is something we live with, every single moment of every single breath we take. Risk is an essential part of being human and it is an integral and necessary part of experiencing freedom. Risk is meaningful and valuable to a life lived in freedom. I risk my life every time I get on my motorcycle, that is my choice, and I am free to do so. In the same way, people are free to drink, smoke and dive out of planes with nothing but a thin piece of cloth on their backs. People are free to race cars, step into a boxing ring and become parents to children. People are even free to end the life of unborn children. Everything we do in life has certain risks attached to them. Risk is something we should be free to choose, even though some of them are going against God’s wishes. This is precisely the definition of free will.
And then we have God. Many years ago, He sent His son into this world- talk about risk! He sacrificed his Son who was on a clear mission. And I think it is fair to say that he accomplished his mission. The world has forever changed by his actions and interactions with humanity, and He continues to shape our lives. But why did God send his only Son to this world? The answer can vary, depending on who you ask and what you believe, but let me say this; Jesus did not die for an idea, and he did not die for justice or peace, although all important aspects to his mission- the answer is simple, Jesus died for you. More specifically, he died so that you may have life- a free life (Isaiah 61).
As a child, I was raised with the notion that; doing what you’re told is, to some extent respectful. As we mature and grow in wisdom and understanding, we realise that doing good in the eyes of God is what matters. Doing what you are told, no questions asked, is not freedom, it is a form of submission and tyranny, and it is going against the one thing that Jesus died for: your freedom.
I am not writing this blog to instigate a riot. Nor do I intend to sway anyone’s opinion on the challenges every man, woman and child are facing. What your opinion is and where you stand on certain matters is precisely that: your opinion and you should be free and respected to hold those ideas and opinions. What I would like to offer you is simply this; Jesus warned us that we would find ourselves in a time where we will be tested, challenged, and even oppressed (Matthew 24 and Revelation 3). Looking at the world and current events through God’s lens can offer peace and understanding that no one else can. But, for me, Jesus’ mission and the reason for his sacrifice stands loud above all the noise, distractions and evil plans that are currently playing out all over the world; it is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1).
I pray that, during these testing times (and those yet to come), you will focus on our Lord and Saviour, the one who sacrificed everything so that you may have life to the full.