I led an entourage of young gospel workers to Industrial Area Maximum Prison on the 5th of March 2022 and had a great ministry. I have had ministerial involvements on very many occasions both far distance and in the field that lies near. However, this one was a special one.
The first thing had to do with the protocol involved in accessing the recesses of the prison. It was not easy, especially for the male folks. Search upon search and tags were issued to give the inmates no ease of escape. Any silly mistake was too costly, and they couldn’t afford it.
Once inside, the mood changed. We found people who were happy and still have freedom of worship. They sang with zeal looking forward to a better day that they believed would come soon enough. Seeing them moving around under the strict command of the dutiful and committed wardens, it was so obvious that negotiations were not applied here anymore. The safest thing for an inmate is to find out how to love their stated assignment. I realised that freedom was the most important thing.
I then began thinking about what freedom is exactly. Are people as free as they claim to be? What does it mean when someone confesses that he is enjoying freedom? Are you a Freeman?
Serving a jail term is considered by many the greatest thief of freedom. Indeed it is true. I felt the reality of this fact during our ministry in the prison. On the hardened and pitiable faces of the inmates, I could legibly read a deep longing for the so-called freedom—walking carefree and choosing what to do, where to be, and their daily schedule. I realised that even when cornered with a budget constraint, it is sweet to be able to dictate your presence and absence. Freedom is a big deal in life. I want to be free and struggle with other things that I need. Some of the inmates, as they shared their stories, are men of means, but they can’t enjoy it under incarceration.
But wait a minute! Are people free simply because they are serving no jail term? Are you enjoying the freedom you have been granted by the State? So you call that freedom? What about your daily dose from the liquor pharmacy that you can’t do without? What about the website you must click all the time and hope no one is seeing you abuse yourself? What about the junk you consume at or against your will despite the fact that you are crossing the redline of obesity? Well, you have no jail term, but are you free?
We must not assume freedom to be simply walking carefree with no physical fetters. On the contrary, there is more than meets the eye. There are a lot of people who have never served a jail term but who are not free. They can’t choose their drinks independently, addiction is in charge. Some can’t choose their nutrition, intemperance is in charge. Others cannot choose how to express their sexuality, marauding lusts are tyrannically dictating them! Are you free?
True freedom is, therefore, having a conscious capacity to wilfully make decisions. Like a rational consumer, you make your nutritional choices soberly and in a pragmatic manner. If you cannot live within your means, and oftentimes you outmanoeuvre your ability to pay, then you could have lost your freedom to a monster called disorder of grandeur. If you can’t sleep without a cup of coffee or tea 🍵☕, then just know that caffeine is in charge, not yourself. If you must watch some x-rated movies before you go to bed, then just know that you have lost the battle to the lusts of the flesh. If you must close your eyes to the clear teaching of the Bible in order to practice your Christianity, then you’re a slave of your clergy. Are you free, or some tyrant is in charge?
There are a lot of people walking carefree who are not free Indeed. They are serving a jail term but of which, they know nothing. Their hands are tied, but they fool themselves to be free. They are not making any arrangements to come out of the house of bondage. They are not looking up to a visit by any relative because they feel they are ok. But deep down, they are held hostage by disappointments they can just but hush. They lost the watchtower a long time ago and they don’t know what is happening at all. They are supposed to be freedom fighters, but they are okay with things as they are and day by day they are taxed to the core, but they feel no alarm. Their vital force is withering, but they know nothing about it. These people are not free.
True freedom is being in charge. Not being in charge as a Mr I know it all, but disconnecting from any and every enslaving custom and behaviour. Being able to make informed and independent decisions is true freedom. Some think they are free because they can drink themselves stupid and no one complains, but they are held hostage by the unwarranted permissiveness of society.
It, therefore, narrows down to whose yoke you bear. Some are bearing the yoke of the academic community and cannot think beyond some theories. They have a fixed sceptical eye and a derelict stoicism that makes them mere automata. They have been taught to argue in a certain manner, and they cannot appreciate anything else that doesn’t conform to the opinions of the late thinkers of the past centuries. These are supposed to be freedom fighters, but they pacify themselves with the assumption that they are free thinkers.
Even in the religious world where people are supposed to be free, most people are blindly laying their confidence in opinions instead of sound doctrine. Obedience is the only way to true freedom. A conscience free from any accusation, faithful to duty, and right with God, is a power we all need to have together.