Read John 8:36.
Throughout history, God’s people have been proclaiming freedom while in captivity. Israel sings praise songs to God while locked in slavery under Egyptian rule. At the mercy of the wilderness, Israel still rejoices. Even after establishing themselves in a turbulent land and being taken into exile, the people of Israel worship their God. Worship is what sets God’s people apart, because even under the worst of circumstances, God’s people know they are free!
The Apostle Paul and the disciples of Jesus rejoiced in suffering and found joy during periods of suffering. James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). Paul says, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8-9). And before Jesus underwent some of the most horrific human suffering, he was reminding the people around him that the “truth will set you free…everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So, if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:32, 34-36).
Like those who have gone before, our circumstances may threaten to enslave us, but the true oppressor is sin. The truth of Christmas is that Jesus Christ came to set us free, has conquered sin, and won the victory. We need not succumb to the enemy’s attempts to enslave our hearts ever again.
Although this Christmas season may become heavy with a pressure to consume, over-filled schedules, and expectations of family members, this season is a time to rejoice. Christ has come. We know the truth. Christ came at the fullness of time. Christ came to make us children of God. Christ came to give us his Spirit. Christ came that we might claim victory.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Ponder in what ways you may feel in captivity right now and choose to rejoice today! Thanks be to God, who has given us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:37).
By Yvonne Biel