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  • Sep22Mon

    Freedom: A Right

    A bible study for The Salvation Army International Day of Prayer for Victims of Human Trafficking September 22, 2014
    Filed Under:
    World Missions
    by Jan Condon

     

    Everyone has the right to freedom.
    'Freedom is when we have the courage to speak out what we know is true, do what we feel is right, and fight for what we think is unfair. One shouldn't really fight for freedom; rather, they should try to achieve it.' Priya Agarwal

     

    People need freedom from fear, from neglect, from poverty and addiction. Freedom to dream, to love and to make a difference. Freedom to live life to the full.

    I want to suggest three avenues to assist people in finding freedom:

    1. Freedom through community

    2. Freedom through action and

    3. Freedom through faith


    Freedom through community – John 4:1-42

    Freedom comes through community when people love each other and help each other. Freedom comes when people find acceptance, encouragement, healing and support without discrimination. No one should have to 'go it alone', no matter what their situation in life.

    Jesus showed us that everyone deserves freedom.

    In John chapter 4 we read the story of a woman who found freedom and how her community was changed.

    • The woman came to the well to draw water at noon (v 6) – the hottest time of day.



    • She had three things that were not in her favour in her meeting with Jesus. She was a foreigner – a Samaritan (v 7), she was female (v 9) and she was fallen – a woman with a past (v 18). Because of these three things she wanted to avoid the crowd.



    •  This event took place at Jacob's Well in a town called Sychar (v 5) where the woman came to draw water. She as probably poor, because a servant would usually draw the water. But in coming herself, she met Jesus who was sitting on the side of the well. She was not expecting this meeting, but it resulted in freedom for her and her community.



    •  Jesus had been travelling, was tired and asks her for a drink of water (v 7). A conversation followed regarding matters of religion and law, but Jesus was more interested in the woman and her freedom. She finally realised that Jesus was speaking about 'living water' – eternal life and grace and so the woman asked him for this water.



    •  Jesus then led her to the point of recognition of his identity (vv 25, 26) – the Messiah. Even though Jesus had raised the issue of her sinful life (v 18), he detected that this woman needed to find freedom if she was to move forward in life.



    •  The disciples returned and interrupted the conversation. They were surprised that Jesus had been conversing not only with a Samaritan woman but a sinful woman as well (v 27).



    •  The woman had forgotten her water pot and her need for water (v 28) because more important things now filled her mind. She left the well because she had received good news and wanted to share it.



    •  Verse 29 records her returning to her village and saying: 'Come and see' this man. She had heard such good news that she wanted her whole village to come and meet Jesus.



    •  Verse 39 records that many Samaritans believed because of the woman's testimony and in verse 40 Jesus stayed longer in the village and even more people became believers because they had met the Saviour of the world.


    Just imagine the difference in that community and the life of the woman.

    There is freedom in Jesus and freedom in community. Once this woman felt ostracised and isolated but, after her meeting with Jesus, she felt acceptance and support.

    Freedom through action – Matthew 14:13-21

    Christians should never be afraid to get their hands dirty to help secure freedom for others.

    Matthew chapter 14 tells the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Here was a group of people who were hungry and at first Jesus' disciples wanted to send them away in their hunger.

    • It was the end of a long and tiring day and to the disciples it seemed like a hopeless situation, so they thought Jesus would just send the people home (v 15).



    •  They were rather surprised when Jesus told them to do something about the situation themselves (v 16). Then a boy came forward with his food and the hungry crowd was satisfied (v 20). During this event the disciples learned a very powerful lesson.


    To assist people in finding freedom we need to look for opportunities, especially in difficult circumstances. The disciples saw a hungry crowd as a problem to fix, rather than an opportunity for Jesus to work.

    We need to find situations where we can bring freedom through action, even if the environment is unpleasant or the task seems impossible. Freedom is for everybody, without exception.

    Giving a cup of cold water in Jesus' name (Matthew 10:42) may just be the action to inspire someone to seek freedom. We need to use what is in our hands so people see God at work and come to know him through our gracious actions.

    Freedom through faith – Luke 19:1-10

    Society encourages people to be independent and self-sufficient but in Luke we read the story of Zacchaeus – not the most popular person in town. He felt isolated and ostracised.

    • Verse 2 refers to him as 'a chief tax collector'. However he was willing to repent and had a change of heart, as recorded in verse 8. This was demonstrated by offering to give half his possessions to the poor and then going a step further in making restitution by paying back four times the amount he had falsely taken.



    •  When he met Jesus he realised he had done wrong and turned from his sins to God (v 9). He made a new connection and found a new relationship with Jesus. Interestingly, even that was not a popular thing to do with the crowd (v 7).



    •  Jesus reminds the crowd that he came to seek and save the lost (v 10), last and least – the sinner – and through a relationship with Jesus we all can be free from sin.



    •  Zacchaeus's willingness to repent and make good his wrong-doing, help him find freedom (v 8).


    Jesus does not give up on people. He not only responds to immediate needs but also journeys with people for the 'long haul', helping them to find freedom and stay free.

    True freedom encompasses body, mind and spirit. Our faith convinces us that hope, purpose and fulfilment can be everyone's story.

    Our freedom journey starts with Jesus and he continues to be the foundation, inspiration and driving force of everything we do. We believe Jesus was, is and always will be about enabling people to find freedom.

    Freedom comes through faith in Jesus, through communities being changed and people taking action to bring about freedom for others.

    Everyone has the right to be free.

     

    Commissioner Jan Condon

    Territorial President of Women's Ministries,

    Australia Eastern Territory

    With printing permission from Commissioner Syliva Cox

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