John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV)
"We're emancipated; we're liberated; we're in control, don't worry." These confident utterances are arising from young adolescent girls trying to console worried adults, according to a Maclean's magazine article, "Outraged Moms, Trashy Daughters" (August 16, 2010). The article expresses a growing concern over girls "being groomed to believe their purpose in life is to be sexual beings that please men". These girls believe that they can use their bodies to hold power over the boys; but they cannot see that they are being exploited by male-dominated industries and seduced through the sexualization of culture. Maclean's asks, "How did those steeped in the women's lib movement produce girls who think being a sex object is powerful?" Perhaps we should ask: how did freedom become so enslaving?
Jesus saw that happening in His day. When He told some people, "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32b NIV), they were offended by His insinuation that they were slaves. They saw themselves as free, but they were thinking politically, not spiritually. Jesus saw them as slaves to a sinful nature, and He alone could free them. The "truth" that Jesus offered would not give one freedom to choose from an unrestricted set of options. That in itself is debilitating — which today's 20- to 30-year-olds are discovering: this age group faces so many options that they don't know what to decide. Many of them are putting off decisions needed to launch them into full adulthood. They are labelled as the "failure to launch" generation. This may very well reflect our many societal freedoms — but freedom in Christ is different.
Christ's "truth" narrows down our priorities. It is intended to preserve spiritual freedom:
Romans 6:18 – You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)
Really, it's about freedom to belong to God and become effective members of God's kingdom — unshackled from anything which hinders our calling. This freedom is not limited by one's lot in life:
1 Corinthians 7:22 – For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord's freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ's slave. (NIV 2011)
Freedom in Christ, then, is a gift and power within which no circumstance, ruling power, or enticing lure can either give us or rob from us. That is being free indeed!
Prayer: Lord, we pray that Your Spirit will move amongst the young people in our society — and indeed, among us all — that many will come to see the emptiness of their pursuits, and hunger for the true freedom that can come only from Christ. Amen.