It’s World War II. Free nations come to the aid of those whose freedom has been taken away by force. Millions of men and woman fought and died to turn back the hand of those who would seek to oppress and control the world.
But freedom is restored.
Sauron and Saruman make evil plans and send out their war machine to take over the whole of Middle Earth. The free people of the land - elves, and dwarves, and men (and a few hobbits) - join together to stop them and to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mordor. Many, many people die in the process.
But freedom is restored.
Each of us are condemned to death because of our sins and failures. Jesus, the perfect son of God, out of the greatest act of selfless love, takes upon himself the penalty meant for us, and dies an excruciating death in our place.
But freedom is restored for all people.
In his ultimate sacrifice, Jesus took the keys to hell and death for himself, thereby setting us free. He paid the price that we should have had to pay for our freedom.
With all of our mistakes, sins, and baggage, we deserve the penalty of death but Jesus took that penalty for us so that we wouldn’t have to.
He freely sacrificed his life so that we could have ours.
Freedom isn’t free.
We Have a Choice
We’ve been given a wonderful gift. Our freedom was handed to us on a cross. It was laid in a tomb from which, three days later, it came out, alive and well. What are we to do with that?
We have a couple of choices.
The first option is to choose to ignore that freedom and to live our lives the way that we want to. We can choose to go back to the slavery that we were freed from.
The second option is to choose to live in that freedom that was so freely given to us.
Which one should we choose?
The first choice might seem easier. Life as we want it sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? No one telling us what to do or how to do it?
Except that it’s a lie.
Remember that you are in a war. In choosing to go your own way, the way of your sins and addictions, you are choosing to live in occupied territory. You may not actively be on the front lines of the war, but that doesn’t make the war any less real. You live in a walled city created by a harsh taskmaster. Your enemy will make you feel like you’re free but the reality is that you’re not allowed to move outside the walls he has erected to keep you in. Oh you can do pretty much anything you want to … except leave. You are living such a small story. You’re not really free.
The latter is harder. You will live on the front lines of the war. You will be shot at with flaming arrows. You will sometimes get hurt. You will have to fight each and every day. This war against your heart will never end.
But here’s the thing.
There is a larger and better story than the one you’re living right now. A story of freedom, yes, but also adventure, chaos, and redemption. A story of grace, mercy, and love. It is a story fraught with peril but filled to overflowing with feasting, songs, and dancing. It is a story that began before the fabric of time itself and somewhere, deep down inside, you can hear it calling out to you. It is the grandest and largest story of them all and you have a vital role to play in it.
Will there be danger? Absolutely. Will you get hurt? Probably. But at the end of all things, if you don’t give up, you will be a hero. On that day, the one who paid the price for your freedom will approach. He will give you a robe, put a crown on your head, and give you a new name. The name that you were meant to have all along. The name that you will wear for eternity. Your true name.
Then he will put his hand on your shoulder. With a smile upon his face he will look you in the eyes and say “Well done.”
Later, sitting around the fire with your brothers and sisters, you will share stories of the battles you fought so bravely together. You will compare the scars you’ve gotten along the way, and you will know that every one of them was well earned and worth every ounce of pain that you had to endure. You will know then that your freedom was worth the price.
Now that sounds way better than living in an occupied walled city out of harms reach of the war, doesn’t it?