People love freedom. Freedom is defined as the right to act according to ones will without being held up by the power or influence or interference of others. From a philosophical point of view, it can be defined as the capacity to determine your own choices. It can be defined negatively as an absence of subordination, servitude and constraint.
15th August gives us a great opportunity to celebrate India’s freedom as free sovereign political nation. There are various kinds of freedom. Do Indians enjoy true freedom?
India is enjoying political freedom. The democracy in India is successful that people have freedom choose their own representatives to Parliament and State Legislature. Peoples’ will is determined by peaceful elections. There may be some minor aberrations where some people are not allowed to vote by anti-social elements or impersonation …etc. But, the political freedom is well established in the nation.
India’s social freedom is not as good as political freedom. There is discrimination against women in all walks of life. The gender ratio is against women and is matter of concern in several districts. Deprivation of resources and opportunities on the basis of caste is also practiced in many parts of the country. In certain pockets of the country, the religious minorities are harassed or threatened.
Economic freedom is available but still there is struggle for the poor to get their share. Poverty cycle seems to be perpetual. The poor Below Poverty Line do not have food security. The subsidized food meant for them do not reach them as it is looted by the rich traders. Their children do not go to school. With mid-day meals, more and more children from these families are going to school. Many children from poorer families are not able to pursue higher education, as they do not have money to pay fees. Poor do not have opportunity to become entrepreneurs.
Each and every Indian should enjoy spiritual freedom. Lord Jesus Christ taught: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) The phrase ‘set you free’ means a person is in bondage and requires deliverance. It is evident that human beings are held in bondage by Satan with his cunning traps or nets. There are five significant nets in Satan’s armour: 1. “Me Only” attitude, 2. Mindset, 3. Myths, 4. Memories and 5. Mammon.
- 1. “Me only” attitude/Selfishness
The first bondage of men/women is selfishness, which is ‘me only’ attitude. Or, a life centered by a person’s ego. Adam sinned by opting to make decision that was rebellion and was satisfying his ego as confident, assertive decision maker. Instead of leading a life with God as centre, Adam opted for self-centered life.
Unless a person is delivered from being gravitated towards his/her self, the person cannot enjoy freedom. This is possible only having Lord Jesus Christ as the centre of life. Lord Jesus asked the foolish rational of human beings: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25) Man can opt to forfeit his very self to Satan or gain freedom by surrendering to Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2. Mindset – governed my traditions and culture
People are governed by ideas in the culture. For example, people have ‘auspicious time’ on certain days. Good events like marriage or house warming ceremony is scheduled during this precise hours. But, even Christians schedule their programmes during auspicious time, which is sin. God, the Father is Sovereign and all time is good. True freedom is deliverance from mindset governed by traditions and culture.
Traditions, culture and media constantly communicate practices that are not biblical. Even social evils like domestic violence, caste practices, dowry…etc are examples of bondage in minds. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) The Word of God renews and transforms the mind, so that Christians are not enslaved by patterns of the world.
- 3. Myths – Freedom means no limits
The society today reinterprets freedom in a diabolic manner. They forget that freedom has always limitations. For example, a fish is free as long as it is within the water body. The minute it leaves the water, it begins to die. Morality is the freedom area for humanity, when human beings try to defy the boundary; they begin to die morally and spiritually. Then God’s wrath and judgment cannot be averted. “So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord -‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Jeremiah 34:17)
Another myth is: “Freedom means multiple choices”. With the economic boom, people get plenty of choices, whether it is food, clothes, footwear or any other products. Postmodern youngsters think that there are many choices in spiritual aspects of life also. But, to choose life there is only one option. Salvation is through Lord Jesus Christ. Many are deceived with the myth that there are many ways for forgiveness of sins.
- 4. Memories – Real and imagined
Elephants are controlled by their own memories. A wild elephant is bound with iron chain tied with large tree trunk. The elephant tries to kick off the chain and be free. Every time in tries to break free, it badly hurts its leg. After a period of time, it stops trying. This memory is enough to keep the elephant in life long bondage. A simple rope is enough to psychologically bind an elephant. It will never dare to attempt to break free. Memories are so powerful that a person could be controlled or manipulated for life.
Some people are prisoners of past and are unable to break free from those memories. Human nature is to forget the good things and remember bad and bitter events. It gets imprinted in their minds and not erasable for years. Many of their present life is also spoiled due to such memories. Child abuse victims, people who experienced rejection, abandonment, divorce, failure, loss, grief, accident, bereavement; have bitter memories and are unable to shake free.
In India, some are also victims of collective memories. For example, the members of oppressed castes or tribes are timid and unable to behave normally. Since from childhood they are oppressed, they could not come out of the memory of ‘slavery’. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.“ (Phil 3:13-14) Paul was able to forget the past. Christians are called to be future oriented. Each day in a life of Christian is nearer to eternal glory. So, the future is always bright.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (II Cor 5: 17) When a person comes to Lord Jesus Christ his/her past is erased and newness comes as reality.
- 5. Mammon
One politician said, “Money is not God, but it is not less than God.” Yes, bondage for men today is money. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
Money is alternative god; people worship, work and even die for. Money could be a good servant, but not bad master. In pursuit of money people lose focus, values and meaning in life. Rich become richer, poor become poorer. Rich are not satisfied with what they have, they like to have more. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (I Timothy 6:10)
As India celebrates Independence Day, we wish freedom for all Indians in all aspects of life. The superior freedom is in Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians we have privilege to enjoy the Freedom which is true and relevant. But, also Christians have a responsibility towards people around them. So, they should be channels of bringing True Freedom in the lives of people. Christians in India have a great contribution to make for making India a super power.