There seems to be a new topic of interest developing for me. My dear faithful readers (both of you) may remember me telling you about last year’s theme in an earlier post called “Comfortable?” Through sermons I heard, books I read and bible studies in which I participated, I seemed to be hearing a lot about moving out of my comfort zone last year. This blog is probably at least in part a result of that season in my spiritual journey. While I am by no means “done” with that theme, particularly as my definition of what is comfortable keeps evolving, I feel like something new is starting to emerge along side of it. It is actually something I have thought a lot about for years, but I am only recently starting to hear more about it. Perhaps it is the next direction God is moving me (and maybe you?)
Last weekend at the conference that I told you about, one of the speakers talked about captivity or enslavement. His definition of enslaved was “when you cannot imagine another way of doing things…when you are captive to the status quo and cannot imagine it ever being different.” Then, more recently, we began a new women’s bible study by Beth Moore called “Breaking Free.” We are only a week into it, but essentially her theme in this study is to help us look at the places in our lives where we are enslaved or captive…the places that keep us from true freedom in Christ…the places where we cannot imagine things ever being different. While Beth Moore is talking about personal captivity, the speaker at the conference was talking more about systems which are trapped in the status quo. He called our attention to the many people who are enslaved by generational poverty and about political systems, governmental policies and religious traditions that are captive to the way things have always been done…a place where new ideas and innovative solutions are often not welcome. In both situations, personal captivity and systemic captivity, the people involved feel isolated and hope is scarce or non-existent.
So what are the answers to our multiple captivities as individuals and as a society? Strangely enough, both the speakers last week and Beth Moore in this study seem to be pointing us to the book of Isaiah for some answers. The theme verse of “Breaking Free” was also referenced numerous times by our speakers at the conference. I like this translation (New Living translation) of Isaiah 61:1-3:
Good News for the Oppressed
1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 3To all who mourn in Israel, He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory.
So what does freedom in Christ mean for us as individuals, for us as the church, for us as people trying to balance our inward preoccupation with ourselves and our outward obligation to our fellow man? What does it take to be spiritually healthy as individuals and as the Body of Christ? And how does that impact our moral, ethical and even political choices? Where do we find the hope that those things which are not working in our lives and in our world could some day be different ? I love the picture that the verse above paints for us…freedom, good news, comfort, release from captivity, joy instead of mourning…but how do we get there from here? I know all the answers to these questions are found in Jesus Christ, but what is my role in it? And what is yours? Hmmmm…..