Freedom and Bondage – by Tim Wray


prophetic witness

Spirited Reflection – Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Tim Wray is a Lutheran Pastor in Millet, AB (Treaty 6 Territory) where he serves St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.  He recently completed his Doctorate in Ministry in the Rural Community Leadership and Ministry program offered by the Saskatoon Theological Union.

“So if Christ has set you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Canada is a land of freedom…and bondage.  My life too.  Every Christian must wrestle with this tension as it plays out in our private and civic lives.  The work of KAIROS helps to coach us through this journey by pointing out our societal bondage and casting a vision of the Divine justice that leads to freedom.

In Canada we often think of freedom as having two dimensions.  First of all, freedom is the capacity to choose what you will attach yourself too.  We say that we are free to choose where to spend our money, we are free to worship how we wish, we are free to join whatever political party of our choosing or form our own!  To the degree that this is true, we are free.  The second dimension of freedom is the assurance that certain things will not be taken away from us.  Not only are we free to purchase the house of our choosing but we are confident that our home and its contents will not be taken from us.  This aspect of freedom gives us confidence to tie ourselves to things that have value beyond the present because we are assured that they will remain accessible to us into the future.  Freedom means that we are free to invest beyond today.  In Canada we foolishly take this for granted and then rail when this form of freedom fails us. Discussions around the sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan, our national oil reserves and the direction of housing prices comes to mind so as to remind us that the things we have invested in as a nation are tenuous.  Is this freedom?

Prison Bars Image

Image by Visible Spirit

Through the Easter season the church traditionally reads through Acts to reflect on what it means to live as free people.  In the account of how this played out among the early Christians we see that living as free people has economic, religious and political ramifications because indeed, the world is not free.  The world is so twisted that most people confuse freedom with bondage. Acts 16:16-34 provides an apt example.  Paul and Silas have three encounters with “bound” characters.  The first is a young girl who is possessed and enslaved to a man who enlists her in a profitable sector of the local economy.  Ironically, she follows Paul and Silas around calling them “slaves”.  Irritated, they set her straight by showing her freedom.  In the name of Christ they release her from her demonic captor. 

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor.”  How can this be?  Because when all the privileges of our economic system have been stripped from you the only thing left to attach yourself to is God, and in God is freedom.  Firstly, God is free to choose who to attach God’s self to; God chooses the slave girl, the imprisoned disciple, the prison guard, the poor of this country.  And because God is free, what God invests in cannot be taken away by any force of this world. So…blessed are the poor.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for naming the sources of bondage that are strangling our freedom.  Blessed are all those who, like the prison guard, long to be set free from the chains of the status quo but cannot see a way out through the dust of our crumbling structures.  God has chosen.  They will never be taken away.  So then, what shall we use our freedom to invest in?


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