Freedom. Everyone wants it. When we don’t have it, we fight for it. Yearn for it.
I was reading my Bible this morning, not looking for any kind of revelation. Just opened to the beginning of Acts and casually sipped my coffee.
Then I read these verses, saw this scene, where the apostles are enjoying time with their resurrected Jesus just before he leaves for Heaven:
And another time when he appeared to them, they asked him, “Lord, are you going to free Israel from Rome now and restore us as an independent nation?”
“The Father sets those dates,” he replied, “and they are not for you to know.”Acts 1:6-7 TLB
“Lord, When Are You Going to Free Us?”
Really, Jesus? That was your answer to them?
But not for us, right?
Not in these modern times, when freedom and individual rights and democracy reign supreme. (Or at least, they used to.) These days, your will is for us to be free immediately.
Captive North America
North America seems to me like its own version of Biblical captive Israel.
We started off well. Ish. Our democracies were founded on Christian principles that reflected freedom, respect, and the fear of God. We lived blessed lives. (I’m speaking in generalities here. I’m not diminishing social injustice or personal struggles.)
But over time, we’ve corrupted ourselves, worshipping more and more idols: security, fame, medical science, success, money, autonomy, sexual expression. Even fear. Yes, we’ve worshipped fear, placing it far above the power of our God.
We’ve wandered far and wide from the principles and morals of our good, good God.
And the farther we wander, the more blessings we relinquish.
Freedom? Who is Free?
I don’t feel free. Not in my country, anyway. Not the way I used to feel.
My freedoms are being squashed. And new laws are popping up like rapid-fire weeds – laws designed to diminish my religious freedoms, especially in relation to Christian values.
So I cry out to God.
I keep asking him, “Lord, are you going to free Canada now? When will you restore our free democracy? Isn’t that what your will for us? Isn’t respect and freedom and value of life what you want for your people?”
It’s a desperate question.
The apostles were desperate, too. Their people were under immense oppression. They didn’t merely ask Jesus about freedom once or twice.
“They asked Him repeatedly.”Acts 1:6 AMP
They were anxious to get things going. They were anxious for Jesus to take his rightful place, establish a good kingdom, restore peace.
Isn’t that what we all want?
Why won’t Jesus tell us when? Give us some hope?
What Are We Missing?
If it seems we’re missing a piece of the puzzle here, it’s because we are. Jesus had a bit more to say to his apostles.
And to us.
He may not have told them when he would make everything right, but he did tell them what to do in the meantime.
“The Father sets those dates,” he replied, “and they are not for you to know. But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect, to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection.”Acts 1:7-8 TLB
Oh, the goodness of God, to tell us what we can do. In the meantime.
In obedience – and despite their oppression under Rome, the persecution they experienced as Christians, and the uncertainty of their earthly future – the apostles wouldn’t stop telling people:
“Jesus loves you. He died to save your soul. There is more to life than earthly security. We know a way that you can be secure forever with a life of true freedom, true love, true fulfillment, true joy. Will you listen? Do you want to know?”
They didn’t quit when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
They didn’t quit when they couldn’t see the end results of their mission.
They didn’t quit when they were beaten and imprisoned.
They didn’t quit when they wondered when Jesus would ever come back again and free them.
They just kept on spreading the news.
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region… And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.Acts 13:49,52 NIV
What Does Jesus Say?
Today, I find my heart crying out to Jesus, “Lord, my country is on a scary path. When are you going to turn things around? When are you going to set us free from tyranny?”
I feel his reply, tender and loving:
“The Father sets those dates, and they are not for you to know. But as you depend on me and rely on my Holy Spirit, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in your home, your town, your country, and to the ends of the earth.”
What Will We Do?
So what will we do? Will we follow the apostles’ example?
If my country never returns to a truly free democracy in my lifetime, will that change my message? Never. It makes the message all the more relevant.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, please don’t let earthly turmoil distract me from my mission to “bring good news” to people everywhere, to “comfort the brokenhearted,” to share the truth that through Christ, spiritual “captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” (Isaiah 61:1 NLT)
I hope you haven’t read this article today and heard me saying, “Don’t bother doing anything about democratic freedoms. Just tell people about Jesus.” That’s not at all what I mean.
I only want to encourage you to keep your focus on Christ, on the root mission he’s given each one of us, which is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone, everywhere.
Would you pray with me before you go?
Father, Father, we feel weak.
This isn’t the world we grew up in, isn’t the country we wanted to raise our children in, isn’t the life we imagined for our grandchildren. Help us! Come restore our freedoms. Bless us, we pray.
But all this in your perfect timing. We trust you. Help us to trust you.
And in the meantime, in our daily lives, show us how to depend on you more and more.
Show us how we can share the truth of Jesus Christ with the people around us. Show each one of us our special mission, that specific role you’ve created for each of us to live out for your glory. We can’t do it without you. We need your power and energy to help us carry on, to help us carry it out.
Pour your Spirit over us, into us, and through us. Thank you that you will never leave us or forsake us. We’re yours. We’re safe in Jesus. And we’re looking forward to a kingdom of peace with our perfect King.
May God bless you and keep you today,