"The Lord has anointed me ... to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners" (Isaiah 61:1, New International Version).
Recently, I heard the story of new believers in a remote desert area who asked for help.
They said, "There's a village close by, where 200 children are held and trained to sacrifice themselves in holy war."
The followers of Jesus sent a rescue mission, under the cover of night, to bring those children to safety. The children were placed in the homes of new believers and learned of Christ's great love for them through the film "The Story of Jesus for Children."
Recently, a Romanian friend of mine reflected on the overthrow of the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. He remarked, "We Romanians thought that we would have better lives through the overthrow of political oppression. We didn't realize that we needed to experience spiritual freedom in its place. As a result we are still imprisoned."
I can't think of a greater life's work than "to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Today, just as in Isaiah's time, there are literal prisoners in bondage (sometimes wrongfully held) who long for freedom. But Isaiah speaks of a deeper, more fundamental freedom, the liberation of the soul.
I'm grateful for what Independence Day symbolizes in our country. Americans overthrew an oppressive British rule, established a more democratic union, while acknowledging that freedom comes not from government, but from God.
It is this freedom that we proclaim and celebrate, a freedom not just from tyranny of earthly rule and oppression, but from the heart condition, which holds every human heart in bondage. The way of Jesus offers a path "from darkness into His marvelous light" 1 Peter 2:9.
The opportunity for us, as those who experience His fellowship, is to daily pursue opportunities to "throw off the sin that easily entangles," live in that freedom, and proclaim that same hope to others.
As we celebrate our political emancipation on July Fourth, let us remember our glorious, unrestrictive liberation because of Jesus' work on the cross—and share that message to the world.
To better understand our mission to help others experience freedom, watch this short film, "La Liberte'."