This contribution is from Ruth Alkema who contributes articles regularly both at Holy Trinity and Jerusalemkerk in Utrecht.
So if the Son
sets you free,
you will be free
With Easter we’ve celebrated the victory of Jesus over death and sin. It is a precious victory, that He won at a high price. He shed his blood for my freedom: it is humbling to think of it, and at the same time exceedingly precious that He loves me so much, that He gives me this gift of his life. I hardly dare to accept it, because it is such a great thing. Yet I must accept of course, it would be very offending not to, and also I’d die if I didn’t. At the same time I realize that accepting means that I also promise to be ready to sacrifice my own life and follow him. Give my life to Jesus, but in full confidence in his victory, to receive back from him the new life in freedom.
This leads me to think about freedom, which I first associate with creativity, because we need freedom to be really creative. Also, our creativity is truly a wonderful gift of God: this is what makes us all unique and special. We can each have our own way of doing things, showing something of God that only we can show. The first thing Adam got to do was also something creative: think up names for all the animals. I recently read a wonderful explanation, that in order to do this, Adam had to look really well at each animal to get to know it, and then give it a name that really fitted that animal. The explanation went on to say that this was how he exercised the dominion that God gave him over the animals: a loving kind of dominion that affirms every animal in its being. I think this shows very beautifully how dominion and freedom can go together. God is just like that, I think: He knows us perfectly, and therefore his commands are not limiting, but affirming us in our character.
Now I think that Adam was so stunned at seeing his wife for the first time, that he wasn’t so very creative in his first attempt of a name for her, calling her just ‘woman’: something derived from himself. I find this a bit dull, it seems as if he didn’t really see her as a person, only managed to say that she was equal to him. It was after the fall that he gave her a name with a meaning that is full of appreciation . Perhaps this points forward to Rev. 2:17 where God promises a new name to those that conquer, and of the occasions in the Bible where God gave new names to some people, for example Abram became Abraham, Jacob who became Israel, and Simon became Peter. I think God calls us all by name. His calling is in one way limiting, because He asks us to leave our old life and follow him, but on the other hand also very affirming and full of appreciation for us personally. And I am sure that we are invited to be creative in filling in the details of our calling.
Another thing that I associate with freedom is contemplative prayer. For me this means sitting down in a small room to be quiet for God, and shut out all distractions. I will stop pursuing any thought, but let all thoughts fade away so that I can remain aware of being in God’s presence. You might think that this is the complete opposite of freedom: I do not even control my own thoughts. And certainly it is most oppressing if you let other people control what you think. But I find that opening my heart and mind to God is actually allowing him to free my mind of unnecessary limits and open my heart to new ways of thought. This has given me freedom in looking at things in new ways (hence all my texts in the newsletters). It turns out that my own control is actually more limiting than when I give the reins to God.