Good news and Bad News
The good news is that when Jesus said He came to “set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:17-21) he was speaking directly to you and me. You see, there are three types of “oppressed” people: 1. Those separated from God by sin and at risk of spending eternity in hell. 2. Those who are socially and economically oppressed. 3. Those who are psychologically oppressed with worry, anger, shame and/or guilt.
My hunch is that you fall into one or more of these categories, and, therefore, the promise of Freedom is good news indeed.
Now for the bad news: The pathway to freedom in Category 3 -- psychological freedom -- isn’t always instant. It takes time and intentionality. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said “work out your salvation.” (Phil 2:12) (The salvation referred to in Category 1 – heaven v. hell – is, fortunately, instant. All you have to do is solemnly commit to believe in and follow Christ’s teaching. Your performance doesn’t have to be perfect, but your intention must be genuine.)
So what’s the deal with psychological freedom? It’s a slower process that works against the modern notion that everything can be accelerated through speed and efficiency.
I listened to a great podcast while doing yard work this week that nailed this point. (Now that I think about it, there’s a hack for you: Leverage your phone to get Truth into your brain while doing other things.) The speaker said we live in a culture that sees the world through the lens of information and leverage. Yet the kingdom of God runs on wisdom and mystery.
I’m convinced that if Jesus came back now, He would still use agricultural metaphors to describe His kingdom. Freedom is the result of the Fruit of the Spirit growing up in our hearts by routinely attaching to The Vine via prayer, studying the bible, journaling, extended time alone with Jesus, hanging out with people of mature faith, going to a bible-teaching church, and reading great books.
And, guess what, over time, as the mystery transforms us, we’ll have so much gratitude, humility and fearless that we’ll break out of the smothering pattern of living lives of self-preservation built on the illusion of security in something other than Jesus. We’ll be changed by love, compelled to love, and propelled to love.
And here’s where it all comes full circle: The free and proactive Christian is God’s Plan A for setting the socially and economically oppressed free. Pretty cool how God arranged all of that, huh?