Matters of Faith: What It Means To Be Free!

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

Acts 5:26-29 NKJV

Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Independence Day! Juneteenth! Both days set aside to commemorate freedom from oppression; one from the imperial rule of the British Empire, and the other from the horrors of human slavery. Freedom is a God-given right.

To gain freedom and independence is liberating. No longer do you have to bow to the whims and desires of someone else. No longer are you bound by the limitations designed and defined by a person or system whose desire is to keep you suppressed and oppressed. You are free to pursue your own desires and to shape your own life, independent of someone else’s rule. It is your God-given right.

Can you imagine the exhilaration that must have filled the hearts of the people at that time when they realized that the tyranny and the oppression were over? I wonder what the first thing was they wanted to do once they knew they were free. It’s probably written in a book somewhere.

But I do know what the first thing Peter, John and the Apostles did when they were set free from prison. The scripture details their entire experience, from healing and preaching, to being arrested and questioned by the Sanhedrin Council, to being severely threatened not to speak in the name of Jesus again, to being set free, then being re-arrested. The scripture details an angel of the Lord opening the prison doors and releasing them, instructing them to go to the temple and speak life to the people. The Bible tells how they were confronted by the captain and officers of the temple guard and bought again before the Council. It chronicles the high priest asking them, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in his name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” We read in the Holy Writ where Peter and the other apostles answered the high priest and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Freedom brings liberty, and liberty gives us the right to choose. A liberated United States of America chose to create and to follow a constitution that declares “All men are created equal.” Liberated slaves chose to create a society where people would not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character, despite being told that they were 3/5 of a man. The Apostles chose to continue speaking the life-giving Word of God to the people of Jerusalem while facing imprisonment or even death.

The power and the right to think, to speak and to act as one wants without hindrance, restraint, or fear is what it means to be free. The evidence is clear, but the choice of how you exercise your freedom is up to you.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company and The J. Loren R Consulting, LLC for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting, an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book (eBook available at Smashwords).

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