Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.2 Corinthians 3:12-17
When we lived in Pennsylvania I had an ongoing battle with crabgrass. One day I found a treatment that eliminated it from my lawn. What was interesting to me is that the rest of the summer I began to notice all the crabgrass in other people’s lawns. It is like I had a new ‘crabgrass antenna’ that picked up on everywhere that broad-leafed plague popped up. It seems when we are free of something it becomes easier to see where others are still under siege.
I believe that is true for the child of God who has been set free in relationship to our neighbor. When we have been freed from the need to focus on our agenda, our needs and our goals, it can startle us how clearly it is to see how others remain enslaved to these things. This is not a cause for smugness or pride – quite the opposite. It should engender in us two responses: gratitude and a desire to be used by God to bring that same freedom to others.
We recognize old habits, attitudes and actions when we see them exemplified in our neighbor. When we do, when we see people who are enslaved to their need to use others to meet their own goals and pursue their own agendas, our response should be one of prayerful preparation. We must surrender ourselves to God as ask that he might use us to share the joy that comes from being set free. Because this is all solely God’s work, we can do so with no hint of pride on our part. Remember, you have been set free in order to be used by God to set others free. It is our calling to “be bold” and testify to our freedom “with unveiled faces.”
If you will pray for it and watch for it, God will bring people into your life everyday who desperately need this freedom. You may be able to identify several right now as you are reading these words. Again, enslaved people are easy to spot, especially when God gives us eyes to see through the power of the Holy Spirit. Just how you will go about sharing your freedom will depend on your relationship and how God opens doors and leads you through them. Remember, this is God’s work, all he asks of you is to be available and faithful. One way to start is to ask yourself this, “what would you wish someone would have said to you to help you take your first steps to freedom in your relationship to your neighbor?’ Answer that for yourself, and you may open the door to your first steps in watching God set people free in your life through your obedience to his leading.
In an earlier meditation I stated that perhaps the greatest temptation we face as fallen human beings is the temptation to use others to gain what we want and believe that we need. That insidious desire will damage every relationship in our lives until it is rooted out. I pray you have begun to sense the freedom that is yours in Jesus Christ. When we surrender our life back to him, we are able to love our neighbor as Jesus commanded without need to ask what’s in it for us.
Do you know that freedom? If so, will you surrender yourself to God that he might work through you as an agent of freedom in the life of people around you?
The image I suggested for the trek that discussed this third sphere was that of a fellow traveler. Create an image in your mind as to what that might look like for you. Perhaps it is a backpacker on a mountain trail. Perhaps it is someone riding with you on a train or walking alongside you on a quiet path along the seashore. Hold this image in you mind as you go through your day, and ask God to help you see every person you meet as the fellow traveler in that image. They are the idiot that cuts you off in traffic, the slow person in the line ahead of you who holds up everyone, the chatty person in the seat next to you when you just want to read, the co-worker who annoys you, the person in the pew behind you who sings off-key, the competitor who maligns you to other customers, the neighbor who lets their lawn go to seed and the friend who betrayed you and hurt you deeply. These are the fellow travelers in this life journey whom God calls us to love, to serve and set free. It will take a heart of total surrender to live so far outside yourself that this miracle can happen. But God is able to work such a miracle in you, if you are willing and open and truly free.
Dear Lord, I thank you for the freedom I am beginning to sense in the relationships to the people around me. I have confessed to you that too often I have used people as means to my own ends. My heart aches when I think of some of the relationships I have lost because of my wrong attitude. Now that I am sensing the freedom of truly loving my neighbor because of your love for me, help me to be an instrument of freedom in the lives of those around me. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I believe that if I remain open to you, you will open the doors and give me the words to say at the right time. Give me courage, Lord, to share with others what you have done in my heart. And every day help me to view every person around me as a fellow traveler, in need of love, affirmation, encouragement and hope. May they find that in me, as every day I find that in you. In Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.