For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:13-14 NLT
The letter said he was in prison.
I didn’t know why he was incarcerated. Nor was the return address on the envelop familiar. As the contents fell out and I began to read, Jason* told his story. He had read one of my devotions in a publication distributed at the prison. His life had been a wreck. He was there because of bad decisions—which ones didn’t matter.
Jason needed someone to listen and encourage him. While there, he had chosen to surrender his life to Christ, but the darkness of the prison atmosphere depressed him. He tried shining Christ’s light, but wondered whether he made much progress.
Over the next year, we corresponded monthly. He told me about the dreams he wanted to fulfill when his prison stint ended. Then the letters stopped for a while. After a long stretch of silence from Jason, I received another letter. He was out of prison and working—but still struggling to find his way in a cruel world.
Millions celebrate July 4, or Independence Day, in the United States of America. Even more have given their lives for the freedom Americans enjoy. From the initial War of Independence through the many other wars and military actions that have followed, Americans have fought to maintain their freedom and the freedom of others in various countries.
True freedom, however, can be enjoyed even if we’re behind bars or the subjects of cruel rulers. Christ made this type of freedom possible when He died on the cross and paid for the sins of the world. Bars may hinder many from doing what they want—as they did Jason—but our spirits are free in Christ. Oppressors may forbid us from worshiping Christ publicly, but they can never imprison our souls. The state of our souls is eternally secure.
Those set free by Christ are free forever. Jason and many others have discovered this while in prison. Christians living under oppressive governments have as well.
When we ask, Christ forgives our sins and casts them as far as the East is from the West. He no longer requires we pay for them. We are free.
Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights leaders, ended his “I Have a Dream” speech with the following words: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
Although he did not live to see all the freedoms he desired realized, he had experienced the greatest freedom any of us experience: freedom in Christ.
Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV).
Don’t live in slavery anymore. Let the Son set you free. And if you live in a free country, take a minute to thank God.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the individual