As the United States celebrates its 233rd anniversary as a free nation, there are still many countries striving for political freedom or more democratic governments. The protests that have racked Iran following the recent presidential election there are just one example.
As many have found, simple political freedom isn't the full story of a country's progress. The rule of law, some degree of stability, and a commitment from citizens to unite as a country are vital. Many scholars agree that it wasn't until the US Civil War ended that the country actually had a sense of united nationhood. And there was still work to be done as war wounds were healed and divisions overcome.
Similarly, in families, businesses, churches – even within individuals – lasting freedom makes spiritual demands that ask us to look beyond our personal interests to neighbors within our own group and beyond. Our response to this demand is sometimes challenged by material passions – selfishness, resentment, anger, pride, and so forth. The journey to freedom (individual or national) can have a zigzag course as a result. Each step of progress, however, is moving us in the right direction.
Ultimately, lasting freedom is won through the spiritual nature each of us has as the son or daughter of God. Our helper in this effort is the Christ, the spiritual idea of God that Jesus presented to humanity not just for his time but for all times. This mission wasn't designed to subjugate but to liberate. He literally freed people from sin, disease, and death, and taught his followers how to do this work also.
Once, while he was in his hometown synagogue, he stated this mission by reading a passage from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Luke 4:18).
This message of the Christ is still present as the Comforter Jesus promised would be with humanity forever. The Christ can bring healing and sustenance to the poor by revealing new solutions and by softening hearts so that there is a will to help them.
The brokenhearted, especially those whose loved ones have been killed in the quest for justice in Iran, or peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, can gain peace from this Comforter's message of God's love. The families of those who have died can recognize God's continuing presence, guiding and blessing their loved one. They can also gain strength in a conviction of God's eternal care for each individual. God will never abandon them.
Christ is divine Truth, which can also open prison doors for those who are unjustly trapped, whether by repressive laws, by kidnappers, or by other forces. Right where situations are imprisoning, the Comforter can speak to the captives and to their captors, opening the way for justice to be done.
Both the blind and the bruised can experience the healing Christ's comforting presence. But this comfort isn't just to make people feel better about their situation. Empowered by God, the Comforter heals. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, proved this many times in her healing work, and her followers right down to the present day have experienced the power of the Christ in their lives. This experience in healing enabled Mrs. Eddy to declare with confidence: "The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 224). That power is with you and me, and all who desire liberty, today.
There's no question that much in the world needs healing – liberation from everything from individual health concerns to international political tensions. Prayer that recognizes each individual's God-empowered right to be free begins to open the way for liberty to become more evident within these global conditions.
To the degree that you feel spiritual freedom, you spread it around your environment through your attitude toward others and your approach to sometimes intractable problems. As each of us does this, we will be proclaiming "liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Lev. 25:10). Prayer-by-prayer, we will be liberating the world.