So the Jews who had believed in him said, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves to anyone. How can you say we shall be free?” (John 8:33) Wait, what? I mean, did they not remember Egypt? Or Babylon? Their whole history involved being taken into captivity, and God freeing them from their slavery. Had they simply forgotten, or were they just denting it?
One of the biggest enemies to freedom is the unwillingness to admit, or recognize, our captivity. When we forget, ignore, or deny the places we are still in bondage, we make it impossible for God to free us, since we don’t even realize that we are imprisoned.
But, even as bad as that is, what’s worse is when we actually come to love our captivity; when we prefer captivity to freedom. I know, it sounds crazy, but you see it all the time. In some incredibly strange way, we become convinced that the things—or the people, or the circumstances—that are holding us captive are better than the life we would have without them. In the words of Thomas Merton: “How can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and opposite desire? God cannot plant his liberty in me because I am a prisoner and do not even desire to be free. I love my captivity and imprison myself in the desire for the things that I hate, and I have hardened my heart against true love.” In other words, the cell door has been opened, but we still choose to live in our own, self-imposed, captivity.
Thus, if we are not experiencing freedom in our lives, we must ask ourselves, “Why?” Where are we being held captive without even recognizing it? Or where, or how, are we denying it? And is there a possibility that we even love our captivity? Until we begin to answer these questions, there is really little hope that we can ever experience the freedom that Jesus offers us.
Lord Jesus, help me to see the ways I am still being held captive, and give me the grace and the strength and the courage to step out of that captivity into the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God. Amen.
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