When we choose between alternative options, we think we’re free.
When we can believe whatever we want we celebrate our free will.
When we can behave however we want we say we’re liberated.
But are any of these remotely close to the freedom that we receive in Christ?
N.T. Wright gives us a list and a pathway to find the freedom we’re seeking:
“Free from sin, free from slavery, free from the law, free from death, free from injustice, free from debt, free from tyranny… It’s needed today as much as ever, in all of these senses and more. The way to freedom is through the truth, and what matters therefore is to know the truth. Tyranny and slavery of every sort thrive on lies, half-truths, evasions and cover-ups. Freedom and truth go hand in hand.”
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Zacchaeus encounters Christ and discovers freedom. He stands on tippy toes at first, scurrying up a tree like a panda, to catch a glimpse. Jesus declares he “must” come to this chief tax collectors home.
Freedom comes in abundant restitution.
The law required that voluntary restitution be no more than the original amount plus 20 percent (Le. 6:5, Nu. 5:71. Zacchaeus goes joyfully beyond. He was doing what was laid down in the law for thief with killing or selling an animal (Exodus 22:1).
Freedom comes through faithful service.
Several servants multiply the resources they’ve received; one tucked it away in a hanky. That didn’t even comply with minimum safety standards which required the wealth be buried in the earth (Talmud, Bab Metzia 42a). The story reminds us that faithful service is rewarded with more responsibility for more faithful service.
Freedom comes through repentance.
Jesus’ encounter in the temple reminds us how easily the sacred can be transformed into sacrilege. In the temple and in our hearts. Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, in a way, is an act of setting people free from the unhealthy practices that have slipped into their lives.
Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem reminds us that freedom is not a one and done but an ongoing process that exfoliates the soul until we live more clear and clean and holy.
What do I least want to read but must need to hear?
That I need to be set free.
Some of the people who annoy me…maybe it’s time to bless their socks off.
Some of the areas where I’m tempted to cut corners…maybe it’s time to go all out in service and sacrifice.
Some of the areas where I’ve assumed the status quo is fine…maybe it’s time to invite Jesus into to clean house, to clean my house.
Together may we be a people who learn to Live Free.