February 20th — 2nd Email – Getting Free
One way to think of Lent is as a time to broaden our personal sense of freedom as beloved children of God. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus begins his ministry in his hometown synagogue reading a passage from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah which essentially becomes the mission statement of his ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free…”
Notice how prominent the theme of freedom is. The Spirit of God that was at work in Jesus’ earthly ministry continues to be at work in this world setting the human race free from bondage.
Bondage comes in two basic forms and both are expressed in the central story of the Hebrew people. In Egypt, they lived in bondage to Pharaoh, suffering great injustice. In the story remembered in Passover, God set them free from this outward bondage.
There are people in this world who suffer terribly from outward forms of bondage and as God’s people we are called to work to set the captives free. Although we too suffer from some forms of outward oppression, for most of us our struggle focuses more on various forms of inner bondage.
Out in the wilderness, no longer Pharaoh’s slaves another form of bondage took center stage – an interior bondage. The Hebrew people continue to carry inside them the mentality of a slave. They murmur and complain, longing for the good old days of their servitude to Pharaoh. They live in bondage to their fears for the future.
Oftentimes outer and inner bondage go hand in hand. Sometimes with a boss or a family member a pattern can get established that is oppressive to us. We experience it as external bondage, but inwardly our spirits conform to this oppression evoking feelings of worthlessness. The possibility exists, however that a shift can occur in our inner attitude towards ourselves that positively effects the outer dynamic. Perhaps we take more deeply into our hearts the message that we are God’s beloved children with a certain inherent dignity we begin to carry ourselves differently with the result being that the one who has oppressed us begins to treat us with more respect.
One way the Bible understands the forty years the Hebrew people spent wandering in the wilderness is as a time of spiritual preparation for life in the promised land. They began to find release from their inner bondage as they learned to trust God one day at a time.
What are the forms of your bondage? How might the forty days of Lent be a time in which you make room for the Spirit of God to begin to release you from some of that bondage?