IT was for Freedom
When I think of freedom loads of images and thoughts come into my mind. Some good some not so good, especially when thinking about things I thought were freeing but actually brought guilt and condemnation.
It seems to me that there is great freedom shown by the shepherd I read about in the book written many centuries ago by Doctor Luke. This shepherd gives his sheep real freedom; he really loves and cares for his sheep. As I wonder why, the bigger picture shows me that he hungers for his sheep. An ancient letter written to the small church in Rome tells me that he wants them to have a freedom, free from any guilt or condemnation. I get the picture that the shepherd’s desire is for his sheep to grow and develop in their individual gifts, skills and attributes. Not in comparison to others but as individual loved beings. He even gives the sheep freedom to get lost, if they want to, knowing that he will intentionally and continually hunt for them.
In another ancient letter written to a small church in Ephesus I am reminded that this is because his desire is for the sheep to journey and grow into the fullness of being like Jesus Christ. That just blows me away, that the shepherd wants us to become like Jesus. Just LIKE JESUS, and to do it he will give the sheep the tools they need by giving the gift of his wisdom and spirit for counsel.
All of it just because God’s people can then help, assist, love and tell others who are hurting and weighted down by the guilt and condemnation of false freedom.
In the stories the shepherd is God and the sheep are a representation of us human beings and when I link it to this ancient festival of Christmas it kind of reinforces the whole point. That Jesus came naked and weak into our history. That He then traveled part of this planet illustrating that with the nurturing boundaries of God in our lives and as a part of the gracious, loving, guilt free Kingdom community we can journey into expanding personal freedom.
The funny part is that this freedom can sometimes be the hardest thing for me to take hold of because it’s given with no strings attached and is unconditional. I often think I’ve got to do something for it. That’s why what it says in the ancient mystical letter written by John - someone who walked alongside Jesus - that when ‘Jesus sets us free we are truly free’ and can with growing confidence walk the uncertain adventure of life.