For years I've followed the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest in Burma (Myanmar) for 13 years because of her support for democracy in her country. It takes courage to stand for the right to freedom, especially when it means making this kind of sacrifice.
Although I live in London now, I grew up under a repressive government. This background made me especially glad that recently Ms. Suu Kyi was allowed to leave her home and pray with hundreds of Buddhists demonstrating for democracy in Burma. As I heard that the government was responding violently to the protests, I realized I needed to pray.
The Bible has many examples of people who stood up for the right to be free. It also reports individual acts of disobedience to oppressive governments and laws. One such example was the Hebrew midwives who disobeyed the Egyptian pharaoh's rule to kill male Hebrew babies. Their acts of bravery are recounted, and the names of two of them, Shiphrah and Puah, are preserved in the Bible (see Ex. 1:15-22).
The book of Exodus is largely about what it takes to be free and how people respond to the challenges of freedom. It describes Moses' encounter with God, who told him to go to the Egyptian pharaoh, who kept Israelites as slaves, to demand their freedom and to lead them out of bondage.
While Moses was receiving this direction, he asked God how he should respond if the people asked who had sent him. God answered: "I AM THAT I AM … Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Ex. 3:13, 14). Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, described the name "I AM" as declaring "a mighty individuality, even the everlasting Father ... ever-presence, omnipotence ..." ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1886," p. 258).
Starting with the fact that God is the one and ultimate authority, despite all the difficulties along the way, Moses was able to lead the Israelites to freedom.
Each of us can be led to freedom – from governmental repression or from sickness, fear of failure, aging, or loneliness, or anything that makes us feel trapped. God is always speaking to us, and if we're willing to listen, we'll be able to discern His guidance.
This is possible because each of us is the spiritual idea of God, the all-powerful I AM. When I consider Moses' courage before the pharaoh and all he went through just to get consent for them to leave, I see ample evidence of God's power, almost forcing freedom to come.
As a Christian, I identify this powerful movement toward freedom with Truth, or the universal Christ active within our consciousness. When disturbing things happen, I remind myself of my true identity as God's idea and say, like Moses, "I AM hath sent me unto you." And I feel the presence of all-powerful Love, helping me.
Everyone can feel this presence. God talked to Moses through his spiritual sense or intuition, and He talks to all of us now, guiding us toward good, never evil.
During the protest prayers last week, the monks invited the people of their country to pray in the doorways of their homes. Out of gratitude for my freedom, I joined them in prayer. I will take to heart what the Apostle Paul told the Galatians, "Stand fast ... in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" (Gal. 5:1). He asked them to do this by following Jesus' teaching to love one another and maintain mutual love and affection. He knew this would enable them to work together with respect and kindness. Paul identified the fruits of the Spirit as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control," and he added, "No law exists against any of them" (Gal. 5:22, J.B. Phillips).
These fruits are powerful and transforming. They are the fruits of peace. My goal is to express these fruits in support of all those who are making peaceful demonstrations for democracy.