The strain of ordinary life is sometimes quite heavy. We really don’t dwell on it much, though we do sometimes like to share our thoughts about it. I think we just accept the strain of living because we see no real alternative. We have seen the peace that marks the body of our friends who have died. This is especially true when we are aware that the person’s life was marked with hardship, or maybe disease. Still as thankful as we might be that someone is no longer suffering, we feel no jealously for the position of that person. Even if we were to complain about our situation, it is doubtful that we would want anyone to put us in the position of the deceased.
There are times in living that we recognize the type of bondage in which we find ourselves. Several years ago, I was intrigued by the tales of the hostages as they were freed. One of them said that there is nothing so against the human spirit than to be put in chains. It is hard for me to imagine being chained to a wall. One hostage told of being chained outdoors during the winter. In such a case the whole of the human body and spirit cries out for freedom. Thomas Jefferson wrote that one of the inalienable rights of humans is that of liberty. I think we agree. On the other end of the perspective, another of the hostages made the statement that they were never bound in mind. In their minds they were always free. But as we picture them being freed from the captors, we tend to say that they are free at last.
Freedom from baondage is a ause worth celebrating. I have known only a few people in my life who have ever been unjustly held as a prisoner, or a captive in a war. I do know a man who was in a German prison camp during World War II. He marks the anniversary of his escape from that camp as his day of freedom every year. The Jews had a year of Jubilee in which the bond servants were to become free of their bondage. We also have in our penal system a limitation on the sentence of most criminal matters. We understand the concept of one who is freed from some sort of bondage, and the joy known in being made free. Still, the only physical bondage most of us may ever know may be the years that we had to spend in a school detention, or at home with our parents.
Ask yourself, “Have I ever been in bondage?” As you consider your answer, don’t think about a bondage that involves the chains and bars. Think in terms of a prison of the heart, mind, and soul. Such a bondage can be very deceitful. It tells us that we are not bound. It tries to tell us that we are free. We may believe its lies, even when we know that it is not true. It may be that we may only recognize our bondage after we have been set free.
Jesus confronted the people of his day with a message of freedom. They did not comprehend it, because they did not know that they were bound. He pointed to their bondage. They had not seen it. Even when confronted with it many chose not to recognize it as such. It is tragic to be bound when freedom available. It is anger provoking. Still, what is sadder is to see anyone bound and shackled, when freedom has been offered as a gift. I cannot imagine any hostages choosing to remain a prisoner in the hands of uncaring, ungodly captors when freedom has been freely offered to them.
Is there that in your life of which you would long to be free? There is a freedom. It is offered to you. Perhaps you do not yet recognize any bondage, and it may be that you are already free. If you are already free, then we rejoice in freedom. Still listen to the words of Jesus, look to yourselve, and maybe you will find bindings from which you have yet to be freed. Don’t let bondage be self inflicted. The freedom Jesus offers begins with a freedom from what your bring to yourself.