The history of the world is infused with man’s innate and insatiable desire to oppress, conquer and enslave the weak. But not all is despair; there is a positive side to the story as it also reveals his unquenchable and exceptional capacity to fight back and win freedom. Take any country, civilization, or people group. They all have this story in their epics, in their history or in their legends – a story of oppression and liberation; a story of grave injustice against a people with iron will who would never give up; a story of the reign of adharma challenged by the warriors of dharma; a story of their pain, struggle, war, blood, death. All these and more has been the recurring theme of poets and philosophers from time immemorial inspiring man to strive for this invaluable prize – freedom. Our country India’s story is no different. Some of us have seen and many of us have heard or learned about the great Indian freedom struggle against the British rule. In the busy rat race of modernity, it’s virtuous to ponder these ancient stories, the stories of many who went before us, whose great sacrifices gave us a life and freedom.
We have a dream
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his most famous speech against racial oppression titled “I have a dream”, declared:
“when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
We all share in this dream too, don’t we? It’s not the old Negro song for us; it’s our song, our spiritual longing. The great Indian dream of overthrowing the British who stole our lands, our possessions, our liberty… that we, our people, would enter this dream land, the land of the free; where we, the deprived and divided ones for centuries, could finally join hands and sing the same song of freedom.
Our oppressors have long gone, and we have a sovereign government – of the people, by the people, for the people. But can we in good conscience declare that our dream has come to fruition?
Even though, on paper, Indian constitution recognizes the right to freedom as her citizen’s fundamental right, we many times don’t experience it. It’s a shame; we still are a land totally soaked in corruption. It’s a painful reality that we still discriminate our own people based on their caste or creed. Our constitution grants us freedom of speech and expression, but how many times have we seen people harassed and persecuted for criticizing those in power! We are told, we have the right to practice any profession or occupation; but aren’t we a country of forced labour…where many are so poor they force or are forced to send their children to hard labour! We are assured freedom of religion, freedom to practice and propagate one’s faith; but it’s only a freedom to praise faith. There has been ongoing bloodshed just because some of the gods or prophets or sacred books were criticized.
Freedom is not just having the rights to praise and accept what we think is good, it is also having the rights to criticize and reject what we think is evil.
We use and abuse people, our own people, our mother’s children; we are a nation of slaves, enslaved by our own superstitions, our own desires, greed or power… Where is our freedom? Is this the land of the free? When we finally reached the clean shore we saw from afar, does it look really filthy! Did we defeat one Ravana from the enemy clan, only to face a hundred Ravanas from our own clan!
Hindrance to true freedom
Our failure in attaining true freedom was not because we didn’t put a good fight; we did. It was because we were fighting the wrong enemy. Our real enemy was not the Britishers, though we are glad they are gone. Our problem is not just external, it’s deeply and more fundamentally internal. One of the followers of Jesus wrote about this very personal problem:
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”
We only need to reflect on our heart’s inclinations to find that this analysis is true for us as well. Evil is not just outside of us, it starts within us. We don’t have a political problem; we have a deep moral problem. All external evil actions are only different manifestations of our internal evil nature. The problem is not with the system, it is with you and me.
Freedom in God
Since this condition, if we are honest, is true for every one of us, no one is capable or qualified to solve it. Blind cannot lead the blind. Jesus said:
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin”.
As all men are slaves to sin, only God can save us from our sins and give us true freedom. God of the universe, the Holy Bible says, is a God of love. He has indeed provided a way for us to experience freedom in its truest sense. He sent his Son Jesus into the world to save us from all evil – both external and internal – first internal, so that external would inevitably happen. Jesus didn’t have our moral problem; he was totally sinless which qualifies him to solve our problem. He loved us and took our sins upon himself and gave his life as a penalty for saving us. God raised him from the dead and gave him all authority in heaven and earth. Now he can make us free as he bore the punishment for our evil, so that we can be what we ought to be – sons and daughters of God, enjoying everlasting bliss with him.
Freedom in the kingdom of God
As all human kingdoms are corrupt and self-centered, denying our basic freedoms and abusing us for its own profit, it’s just reasonable that only in God’s kingdom could we find true freedom, lasting peace and real joy. Many greats have acknowledged similar ideals. The father of our nation, Mohandas Gandhi dreamt of such an ideal in his concept of Rama Rajya, where people would be truly free, where equality, truth and justice would reign. He said,
“By Ramarajya I do not mean Hindu Raj. I mean by Ramarajya, Divine Raj, the Kingdom of God.”
Gandhi’s life and work, in his own admission, was heavily influenced by Leo Tolstoy’s monumental work “The kingdom of God is within you”, which was explosive enough to get banned in his native country, Russia. That work is an exposition of Jesus’s original message about the “Kingdom of God”. We encourage you to look at the original as taught by Jesus so that you don’t miss this wonderful truth about God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God, or the rule of God on earth, or heaven’s life on earth – that was Jesus’s passion; that was his message, his dream. He invited us to be part of it, encouraging us to give up our ways and follow him and his ways. He urged us to seek it as our first priority in life –
“seek first his(God’s) kingdom and his righteousness”
He provoked us to pray to God about it –
“may your(God’s) kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The current evil world is not what God envisions for us. Holy Bible predicts a beautiful future for God’s people –
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
You see, God’s grand vision is to make us truly free, free from all evil and oppression – both outside and inside of us, free from all pain and suffering, even death. Our participation in this grand vision is first of all by getting right with this one true and holy God of the universe who created all of us. For that we need to give up our selfish agendas and sinful lifestyle which only enslaves us, and follow God’s way of freedom for our souls. There is a day when we all could join hands and sing the old Negro Humanity’s song “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”.
We have a long way to go. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We invite you to take that first step now; the step toward the freedom you always wanted. We who have begun to experience God’s forgiveness and restoration, wishes you reader that you experience it for yourself. You don’t know if tomorrow is there for you. Would you repent of your sins today and put your trust in this Lord Jesus who sacrificed his life to take care of our sins? Would you make God your king, the master of your life, and decide to follow where he leads? God’s kingdom awaits your good response and then you will begin to experience the true meaning of freedom, may be for the first time in your life.