Spotlight 3/2020: You think you are free?

Jesus makes free — but what happens if a person fails to realise that he is still bound? For example, in thoughts or in prejudices? Some reflections from District Apostle John Kriel, South Africa.

As an apostle I served members in prison and saw what it meant to have one’s freedom constrained. These were those who had been found guilty of the one or other crime. Whatever else they may then have done in their lives mattered very little for they are forever judged by the deeds they were found guilty of and pay the price for it.

Jesus came to make free, but it was not a natural freedom. No, this freedom that Jesus offered was something greater. It was a freedom that even the most harshly oppressed could experience. In this context we remember the adulterous woman. He made her free and gave her advice on how to remain free: Go and sin no more.

As the New Year’s word enlightened us: “The Lord does not impose His freedom upon us. He only liberates those who want it.” In the time of Jesus many did not accept the freedom offered by Him as they believed they did not need it. This prompted the thoughts: Are we sometimes bound without realizing it? Do we think we are free only then to be rudely awakened to a new awareness through the prompting of the Holy Spirit?

Almost 50 years ago one of my elder brothers was murdered. This was a very, very sad time in my life. For a prolonged period of time I harboured revengeful thoughts towards this person. Over time my anger subsided; I felt I had come to terms with what had happened and had forgiven whoever had done this horrible deed.

As mentioned, I held services in prisons and during one of these services it was my task to bestow the Holy Sealing on 3 men who had expressed the desire to become New Apostolic. I had been informed previously that the reason for them being imprisoned was because all of them had murdered one or more people.

At the moment when the 3 men stood in front of the altar the thought came to me: If you were told that one of them is the person that killed your brother, will you still bestow the Holy Sealing on him? I was confronted with the realisation: I had thought that I had forgiven, but had I really? Was I truly free of revengeful thoughts? At that moment I sincerely pleaded with the Lord to make me completely free.

Thankfully, I could in my heart honestly say that even if I knew one of these men was my brother’s murderer I would seal him with the Holy Spirit. In that moment I knew: Christ could make him free, just as He had made me free.

We have been set free from sin by the Son of God who said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Photo: NAC Southern Africa

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John Leslie Kriel