Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
“Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And, dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
-Mel Gibson as William Wallace in “Braveheart,” released in 1995 (Watch clip)
Freedom is constantly in the news these days. For example, many in the West are voicing concerns about attempts by various governmental, educational and professional institutions to curtail freedom of speech and even, in some cases, belief.
Without minimizing these concerns, I note that state-sponsored violation of basic human rights including free speech is commonplace outside the relative safety of Western democracies. Almost daily, there are media reports of harsh governmental responses to those with whom the rulers disagree.
Majed El Shafie is a member of my local church. Born in Egypt to a prominent Muslim family of judges and lawyers, he became a follower of Jesus. As a result, he was sentenced to death and severely tortured. He escaped and ultimately established One Free World International, a human rights organization committed to religious freedom. His book “Freedom Fighter” tells his story of risking everything to give a voice to the voiceless.
The Bible offers some highly relevant insights on freedom. While there is some overlap with the secular West’s notions of freedom, the biblical perspective contrasts sharply in several ways.
First, in His infinite wisdom, God granted humankind the freedom to make choices as to what we think, say and do. He could have made us automatons but He chose to make us free moral agents. This freedom is at the very heart of the Christian worldview and has significantly and positively influenced diverse cultures over the past two millennia.
Second, the first man and woman exercised their God-given freedom by rebelling against God, their Creator and Sustainer. As a result of this rebellion, everyone of us has inherited a broken nature that is predisposed toward self-centredness.
Third, the Bible declares that, even if we are able to exercise a significant degree of freedom, none of us is truly free absent God’s intervention. This truth applies equally to every person ever born in every time and every culture. As per the following excerpt from the Bible, every single person is effectively in bondage because of his or her sin, which is simply failing to live up to the righteous standard of a perfect, all knowing, all loving and all just God. But there’s good news!
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin…You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:6, 17–18)
Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
In that awful Egyptian prison, Majed experienced the greatest freedom of all. Have you?
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.