Four steps that lead to freedom

Jesus makes us free! Come again? Why “makes us free”? We can already do what we want. This is probably how many people feel about this, but they are barking up the wrong tree. Because there is only one person who can offer true freedom.

The Jews were outraged when Jesus said to them, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8: 36). Why “make free”? They were not slaves. Sure, the Romans had conquered the land they lived in, but they were still able to live their faith.

It was with this contradiction that Chief Apostle Schneider started the divine service in Toronto (Canada) on 15 April 2018. “We can learn from this,” he said. Are Christians as strong today as Jews were then? Do they keep faith despite outside influences. “Even if the world is dominated by the power of money, even if there are many opinions, we remain Christians,” he continued.

Freed from the power of sin

The Lord explained to His listeners that although they considered themselves free, they were in fact slaves to sin. This gap between God and man has existed since Adam and Eve had obeyed the serpent. Man is a prisoner of evil. But thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ man has the possibility to once again come to God and have fellowship with Him. “We are free to do what we have decided to do.”

Baptism with water is the first step on the path that leads to Him. “This freedom is an ongoing process,” the Chief Apostle said. And the Holy Spirit accompanies us on this path: in His effectiveness in the sermon and in the power in Holy Communion.

Freed from the constraints of the law

Before Jesus Christ, the only valid law was the law of the commandments. And that meant, anyone who did not fulfil the requirements of the law automatically had to suffer the consequences. In order to come to God, man was compelled to do what was right.

Today, it is completely different: “Through Holy Sealing the love of God was poured out into our hearts, and now we are no longer forced to obey God.” Today, we choose to follow Jesus Christ out of love, because we want to have eternal fellowship with Him.

Freed from striving for a reward

Jesus gave freely and willingly and without expecting anything in return, the Chief Apostle explained: “He gave His life for us; we did not do anything to earn it. He did not ask for anything in return.” And that means that we must give as willingly as He did. “Let us serve Him without expecting anything in return.”

But there is not only the aspect of hoping for a reward, but also of hoping for His favour. His love is not limited by either a person’s origin his faults or even his refusal to follow Him. The Spirit teaches us to love as the Lord, by being free from all prejudices.

Freed from being egocentric

“I can do whatever I like. I don’t need anybody. I’m my own boss.” Is that freedom? “No,” the Chief Apostle answered. “The freedom of a Christian is to be part of the body of Christ, on which each member serves the others.”

“There is not a hint of domination.” We do not want to be more important or more loved than our neighbour. We do not think that our concerns are more important than those of our neighbour or that our ideas are better than those of others. There is no such thing as “me being the measure of all things”, because that, precisely, is the idea behind ruling over others.

“We do not want to rule over our neighbour. Let us help him and accept him as he is,” Chief Apostle Schneider said in conclusion. “We will be absolutely free to receive the resurrection body and wait for the new creation, in which creation itself will be free from the dominion of sin. That is our future, our mission, and our way.”

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Andreas Rother
Canada, Chief Apostle, Divine service