The Price Too Steep?
I've been thinking about God's take on freedom. The Bible talks quite a bit about how belief in Jesus leads to freedom.
Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."
Isaiah 61:1 "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners."
2 Corinthians 3:17, "and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
1 Peter 2:16, "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom
as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves."
When freedom is talked about and guaranteed in the New Testament, it is spiritual, not political freedom. Jesus walked the earth in an era when God's people were oppressed by a foreign power and, though He had the power to do something about it, He chose not to. The tangible political climate was not His priority; people's individual hearts and souls were. In fact, right up until His crucifixion, several of His disciples thought they were going to be leading a political revolution.
God doesn't seem to have a problem with His beloved people experiencing hardship, heartache and even oppression. Over and over again in the Old Testament, the people of Israel were led into bondage when their hearts had turned from God. They looked to other gods to fix their problems and pour out their devotion to. Because of this, God would lift His protection and they would face the consequences of their actions.
A famous age of exile was during the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king (2 Kings 24, Daniel). God's people had been besieged, routed and taken into captivity. They were to live under foreign rule, in a foreign land far away from the temple and their promised land. The Babylonian king forced his subjects to bow before his statue and three Israelite friends refused, saying they only bow to God. Most people know how the story ends; the three friends are thrown into a furnace, but are not consumed by the flames. They are miraculously protected due to their integrity and faith in God.
How many of us would just rather not experience that miracle? We're so impassioned about our freedoms, about never being put in a position of being desperately in need of a miracle. I hear so many Christians going to battle to protect their political freedoms, when that isn't a fight that Jesus fought. He let Babylon exile Israel for 70 years. He let Rome rule over Israel for almost 400 years. Despite this, even because of this hardship, His people re-consecrated themselves and experienced the inner freedom that He offers.
Paul the Apostle was in chains for his faith when he wrote this in Philippians 1:12: "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel."
There is a portion of the global church that is persecuted and is experiencing spiritual freedom, renewal and miracles every day. Would we really rather fight to maintain the complacency our religious freedoms have afforded us? Personally, I want to see miracles, I want to see revival in the streets, I want the kingdom of freedom advanced, whatever the personal cost.