"Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves." 1 Peter 2.16
Today has been designated Freedom Sunday. Who decides? On this occasion it was the initiative of the International Justice Mission, a Christian organisation whose vision is to identify and liberate those who are trapped in slavery, whether in the sex trade, through exploitative working conditions, or for any other reason. IJM works through local justice systems, encouraging them to apply their own laws and providing aftercare to assist in the rehabilitation of victims. An interview with IJM's Scottish officer, Andy Bevan, is being loaded onto the church website: www.sschurch.co.uk.
The apostle Peter reminds us that freedom is not to be taken lightly, or as an excuse to throw off all restraint. That kind of behaviour is what leads to the abusive conditions which require the attention of legal systems and charities like IJM. Freedom needs to find appropriate expression and Peter uses an arresting phrase "Live as God's slaves" to convey the truth that obedience to God offers the best environment for freedom to flourish.
The greatest impediment to freedom - ours and everyone else's - is sin. Jesus set us free from sin by sacrificing his life. That renders our freedom a costly gift. His subsequent resurrection confirms the continuing efficacy of that gift. And with it comes Jesus' invitation to join him in his mission so to share that freedom that eventually the whole of creation is set free from the suffering and death which are the tragic consequences of sin. How shall we respond?
The lifeblood of IJM is prayer. Every employee is contracted to spend at least an hour a day in prayer. Prayer unites us to God and to fellow believers. Yearning for freedom? Let's begin by exercising our opportunity to pray. Who can stop us? Pray that God would free us from whatever we might be struggling with now and, in so doing, might show us how we can be agents of freedom for others in their struggle...