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What Shall We Do With Our Great Gift of Freedom? by Sarah Dlamini

I’ve often wondered what the adulterous woman, brought before Jesus and the other religious leaders at the temple at the Mount of Olives, felt like (John 8: 1 - 11). Her sin was paraded in front of her community, who was ready to judge and cast aspersions, even stones, at her. (Though I may not have had my sins paraded in front of a crowd of onlookers ready to fling stones, I certainly have felt the barbs and stings of taunters who would keep me in that bondage. And so, it is both her and myself that I picture.)

Sometimes I imagine her weeping and ashamed, cowering and hiding her face from the crowd. Sometimes I imagine her terrified of the pending consequences of her sin. Or even angry and indignant: where was the man who had participated in that sinful moment and put her in that position? But, always, I imagine her wrists bound. I think it’s symbolic of her spiritual bondage. Before that crowd of taunters (human and spiritual) she had been reduced to nothing but her sin. But Jesus steps in and prophetically calls forth her worth outside of her sin, as a child of God. He shows the Pharisees that even they, with their burnt offerings and sacrifices, are so far from God’s standard and in need of salvation that none can claim enough moral standing to judge her. He says to her to go and sin no more and, in that moment, frees her – from her past sin, from her current temptation and from her reputation. Later he tells the same Pharisees, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36; NIV). This is so far from their experience that they cannot fathom it. How can this man claim to say another’s sins are forgiven, let alone that he is free from them?

So audacious are the claims of Jesus – so wild and enigmatic the freedom He offers that adulterous woman. And the woman at the well. And the women with her alabaster jar of perfume poured out on His feet. And me. It is an inferno that runs untamed, bringing purification, igniting and bringing new green shoots of life. It is my treasure. My pearl of great price. It is my hope, that which I cling to in moments of despair. I am free. I have shouted it at the top of my lungs in moments of victory. I have cried it in anguish in moments when I have felt anything but free. I have whispered it to myself with white knuckle determination. I am free.

Twenty years after my moment of spiritual awakening, this freedom still brings me to tears when I consider it. I live equally comfortable with and in awe of it. This gift of freedom does not belong in a trophy case, shining and attractive, but often forgotten. It should be our continual muse: that which drives and inspires us.

It should drive us to obedience. Sometimes people get twisted in knots about the balance between grace, freedom and sin. The ceremonial law has been fulfilled and certain laws don’t restrict us in the same way that they did our Jewish forefathers. However, our relationship with obedience is unchanged in this new covenant. We are obedient to God’s ways as a love response, driven by this great gift of freedom we have been given.

It should inspire us to fight for the freedom of those still in bondage, like Harriet Tubman, who risked her life by going back to the very place where she had been enslaved to bring to freedom family, friends and strangers. We do this, not to point out just how enslaved they are and how free we are, and not to judge them for still being enslaved (as we ourselves were). Rather, it’s to show them the path to freedom, to fight alongside them as they battle their own fears (can they really be free?) as they fight the forces that would want to keep them enslaved, inspired by this great gift of freedom we have been given.

And so, let it be. This great gift of freedom. A beacon of hope to a world that is desperate for it.

- Sarah

Women of Reverence welcomes Sarah Dlamini as a guest blogger.

Sarah is loved by God and counts that as the first privilege and blessing above all.

She also has a husband and two children (a son and a daughter) who she loves inexhaustibly. As a medical doctor currently specializing in paediatrics, Sarah is passionate about public health.

At the end of her life she would want it to be said that she spared no part of herself in loving God as He has loved her and loving those around her as He asked her to do.

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