There’s a line in the song “Desperado” (can you believe that was 1973?) that laments, “Freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’.” The point of this particular lyric, at least as I have understood it, is that “freedom” either isn’t possible or just doesn’t exist. The statement being made is that there is really no such thing as freedom. This line from “Desperado” presupposes not only bondage, but also the inability to escape it.
As you know, when Jesus stands to unroll the scroll in Luke 4 he reads from Isaiah and announces that he has come to “set free the captives” and “bind up the broken-hearted.” Freedom, therefore, is the birthright of those with new hearts; for those that have accepted Jesus as Savior; for true disciples of Christ. “Of course! So what are you looking at me for?” one of your long-time small-group members might ask. A fair question.
Many—if not most—of us that proclaim this freedom, are not actually free. That group member might be very adroit at “acting” free yet fall categorically under Jeremiah’s words in 6:14: “They have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Here God is saying through His prophet: “You may say you’re fine, but you’re still wounded. You’re still a captive.”
A recent project here at work has spurred these thoughts. We’re already working on the third release in the Small Group Life series, the first issue scheduled to be available this winter. The topic of SGL 3 is Freedom: Freedom Was Enough. Galatians 5:1 tells us that freedom was enough: “it was for freedom that Christ set us free” (NAS). What this passage does not say—that this freedom is conditional—is what echoes so loudly and clearly through the centuries and within our hearts’ collective memories. We have been set free simply because God does not want us living in bondage. We have been set free because that’s how we were created to live. As we have been creating this experience I’ve been forced to consider the true implication of my freedom. The freedom we’re promised is so big.
How many in your groups are living with hearts fully awake and alive and free? If asked how much more freedom is possible, I only know that the answer is always going to be “more.” We want people to consider putting away freedom as cliche while embracing freedom more as a lifestyle void of fear, bondage, legalism, or manipulation of the many false selves. Instead, freedom must begin with the heart and move outward. And we must be bold enough to step into what certainly can be an uncomfortable world of complete freedom that is totally void of the impediments that enable paralysis.