Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be really free?
I remember sitting in classes at school, usually bored stiff. I would look out of the window and long to be running around outside. But at least I had long seasonal holidays then.
When I started to work it was 9to5 for 50 weeks a year, if we were lucky, we would go camping or caravaning in our summer holiday break. Oh, how times have changed.
As my career progressed it became the central point of my life. I would spend all day in offices and later on motorways as I drove around visiting customers. I presented myself as the ultimate independent and successful career woman.
Then when I was about 40, my father sadly passed away. I took a week’s compassionate leave from work and wondered what I had been doing with my life.
When I went back to work, I intended to resign. But was talked out of it, the thought was it was the grief speaking.
But a week later, God is good, and manna came from heaven. I was made redundant and given a very generous pay off which allowed me to take a whole year off work.
I took custody of my father’s dog and every day we would walk in the park.
It was spring, and as I watched the blossoms unfolding and green shoots appearing from nowhere, I felt a kind of freedom that I had never felt before.
I began to realise that the life I was living was very narrow. That there had to be much more than that. I gradually took a new direction that allowed me more freedom to be who I felt I really was.
So, when todays work force rebelled against returning to the office after lockdown, I fully understood where they were coming from.
Because freedom is essential to our humanity.
Old Testament Freedom Fighters
The Old Testament teaches us much about freedom, and there are multiple parallels between the life and mission of Moses and Jesus.
God sent Moses to his enslaved people in Egypt to set them free, but after they escaped from Egypt, they spent 40 years wandering in the desert.
During this time in the desert Moses introduced a symbol of freedom, the Passover Supper of a sacrificed Lamb, to absorb God’s anger and frustration with the Israelite’s ways.
God revealed his presence to Moses in the desert and dwelt in a tabernacle (a portable dwelling place that the Israelites had built).
After a long and hard journey, the Israelites finally arrived at the promised land and built a temple to house the tabernacle, and God’s presence.
In the temple was a sacred area called the holy of holies and this is where they placed the tabernacle.
Only the high priest could enter that area to be in the presence of God once a year, and make the Passover sacrifice of a lamb to atone for the peoples sins.
There was a huge curtain that kept the holy of holies separate from the rest of the temple. But when Jesus died on the cross that curtain, literally, split from the top to the bottom.
This signified that the presence of God was no longer to be confined to one person.
The Israelites long struggle for freedom, the Passover Supper and the portable dwelling place of God, were all a foreshadow of what was to come in Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah.
Because he was destined to lead the world to ultimate freedom. He died once and for all for the world’s sins when he allowed himself to be sacrificed as our Passover Lamb, on the cross.
His resurrection from the dead defeated the powers of darkness and led the way for a new life and authentic freedom for all who believe in him.
Now God resides, not in a tabernacle behind a curtain, but in the hearts of all those who accept Jesus.
Through the power of his resurrection, we are now the living stones of his new temple – the Church.
Each one of us, who believes in Jesus, is now a portable dwelling place of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
What does this mean for us today?
Through Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, we have an inbuilt support system called the Holy Spirit that leads us, teaches us and comforts us (as Moses led the Israelites).
I opened my article by sharing my earlier quests for freedom, but no one can take our freedom away without our consent.
Because the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised, has set us free, not only that, but it has also empowered us as well.
People like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Terry Waite demonstrated this defiantly when they were imprisoned for many years for their belief.
But, we give our power away when we do things we know we should not do.
When we do what we know is morally wrong. When we put our desires before where the Holy Spirit is guiding us, then we surrender a part of our freedom
There are many ways to go down this wrong path in the world today and it is easy to be deceived.
To get the right balance, we need to be both disciplined and free at the same time.
Because, genuine freedom, the freedom I spoke of having a small taste of, I have come to understand is being free for God and for one another.
It is discovering, and using, the gifts the holy spirit has empowered us with.
It’s not necessarily easy; like the Israelites, we can experience tremendous struggles. But through Jesus, our Passover Lamb, we now have the freedom and power of the holy spirit as Jesus promised as our helper and advocate to guide us.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is not just for us though, to be hidden behind the curtains of our lives.
It is for us to take out into the world and pass on to other people, by letting the light of Christ shine like a beacon, through our words and actions.
As we do this we demonstrate that Jesus is the way to achieve true freedom and holy empowerment.