In his recent book, Why Suffering, Ravi Zacharias recounts a conversation with an inmate in the infamous Angola Prison in Louisiana: “I asked him, ‘How do you handle the prospect that you will never get out of here, and that this is where your life will now be spent?’ He answered, ‘You know sir, if you knew the kind of person I was before I came here, and what I have now become because of the freedom Jesus Christ has brought to my soul, I can only say that if this is what it took to bring me to my senses, I am happy to spend the rest of my life here.’ Then he paused and said, ‘Please pray for my parents. They think they are free, but they are in a prison of their own darkness without God.’ That evening it was all I could do to fight back the tears as I watched this same man leading more than 700 prisoners in worship.”
There is a man changed by freedom, though in prison for life! Christians believe that Christ sets us free, which implies that we are in a kind of bondage. It’s usually offensive to suggest something’s wrong when you didn’t ask, but consider me a former prisoner trying to show others the way out.
Look, life is not supposed to be like this. Temporary love, broken trust, and subjective truth are too common. Children are at risk, addicts choose wrongly, and money is loved. The big Ten are just suggestions. Our churches can be showcases for saints instead of hospitals for sinners. We do what we don’t want, and don’t do what we do want. We have conflicting passions and goals. Such is the human condition – it is bondage, and it hurts.
What can you do? Attend meetings, join something, set new rules, cover bad by doing good. But all that just leads to more bondage. If you’ve tried it, you know what I mean.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah foretold a Savior who would release captives and set free the oppressed. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of that message. He explained that if we continue in his word, we are his disciples. His disciples know the truth which sets us free. Free indeed, but from what? Free from the demands of the law by his gift of grace. Free from sin to live godly lives. Free from death to be eternally alive. Author T.W. Hunt says, “God’s intention is that we be free from this world’s mind-set. In doing that, God binds us to His mind-set, the mind of Christ.”
God accepts and forgives according to your faith, not how well you perform. By faith, he transforms your mind, and your life reflects Christ. By God’s grace, that is freedom!