“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1, NIV2)
Too often believers forget that we were not created to be slaves, but sons and daughters of the Most High. In Christ we are truly set free, and we are only burdened when we allow ourselves to be.
One of the worst burdens that many experience is unforgiveness. Someone does us wrong, and we want this person to suffer for his actions. We don’t realize that we have put ourselves in a torture chamber, reliving the hurt over and over. We have become slaves to unforgiveness.
This yoke of slavery can be broken as well. After all, didn’t Jesus assure us: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, NIV2)? The problem is that many among us don’t want to be set free.
Many of us have seen the movie or read the book entitled “Unbroken.” This story is about the life of Louie Zamperini, who was in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. For two years he was singled out by the one in charge of the camp for vicious procedures of torture. Day in and day out he lived in a real hell. Somehow, however, he never gave in. He remained unbroken.
Once the war was over and he was able to go back to his home in California, Louie had continuous nightmares about his experiences of imprisonment. Trying to forget his past, he started to drink heavily. Unfortunately it didn’t work. In 1949, he discovered the power of the gospel when he attended a Billy Graham crusade in his hometown. He overcame alcoholism as well as his nightmares from the past, and his marriage was restored thanks to the freedom of the Gospel.
There was only one more thing to be done. He felt deeply that he had to return to Japan. He wanted to face his former persecutors and forgive them in person. Unfortunately, the high commander refused to meet him. The others, however, were completely astonished that he was willing to forgive them, even after all the pain they had inflicted upon him.
Imagine facing your former persecutors. Would we have been able to forgive them? Especially if we had been tortured by them so much that it brought us to the point that we wanted to die? Nonetheless, it had to be done, and by forgiving them in person, Louie was set free. He left Japan joyful, for he was now truly free. Gone were the nightmares. Gone was his addiction. Instead he was now experiencing refreshing freedom through the merits of Jesus, the Christ.
We can be free too. If we wish to remain in the torture cell of unforgiveness, this is our choice; but just imaging being able to enjoy life instead of muttering and complaining about the past. It is something to truly hunger for.
(To access the entire “Alive” devotional series, please click here.)