A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

Of the Children of God From the World
(Bondage and Freedom -- No. 3 of a Series)
 By Edgar Jones
The detachment of the children of God from the World is their freedom.  It is the freedom that Jesus makes for the individual through and by means of his Word.


    [31] If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
This is freedom indeed; there is no other.

The Illusion of Freedom

President Abraham Lincoln of the United States of America, on September 22, 1862, issued the Emancipation Proclamation that proclaimed as follows:
That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.
But . . . they were not free.  

Then, at the conclusion of the Civil War, on Dec. 18, 1865, there was passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, that stated as follows:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

But . . . they were not free.  

The legal bondage was ended, but the mental and psychological bondage continued to bind both master and slave.

On July 7, 1926, I was born in Gibson County, Tennessee.  Tennessee is one of the Thirteen Confederate States that seceded from the United States during the American Civil War, a war that resulted in the abolition of legalized slavery in the United States. I am a fourth generation offspring of an owner of slaves.  On my birth date, sixty-one years following the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, they
-- descendants of both master and slave -- were still in bondage.

They were not free as evidenced by prejudice, racial discrimination and oppression.

On May 17, 1954, in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States declared previous decisions establishing the legality of racially segregated schools to be void, taking a major step forward in what has become known as the American Civil Rights Movement.  But they -- descendants of both slave holders and enslaved persons -- were still bound.

They were not free.

At that very time I was deeply engaged in a vain endeavor to establish a racially inclusive Baptist congregation in a rural Arkansas community. In a church meeting to consider the issue, one of the deacons rose to scold me and words to this effect, "Brother Jones, this is Arkansas! We will never worship with niggers here, and our little children will never go to school with them!"  

They were not free.

Today, August, 2003, passing by racially and denominationally segregated church facilities in the Mid South community where I dwell, I can say the same again.  Still they are bound.

They are not free.

The struggle for freedom continues.  Will it ever end?  

No.  The struggle will never end, and men of this world will never be free.  They do not even know what it means because they do not seek it in Truth, as revealed through the Word spoken by Jesus of Nazareth.

A poet once sought to express this dilemma and propose a resolution:
The Slave

By James Oppenheim, 1917

THEY set the slave free, striking off his chains…
Then he was as much of a slave as ever.

He was still chained to servility,
He was still manacled to indolence and sloth,
He was still bound by fear and superstition,
By ignorance, suspicion, and savagery …

His slavery was not in the chains,
But in himself …

They can only set free men free …
And there is no need of that:
Free men set themselves free.
Here we have an accurate, though superficial, portrayal of the malady of human bondage. And the poet is correct also in locating the root of the malady within the slave and not in the chains, but the last three lines go far astray.  There are no "free men" and no man sets himself free. This supposed freedom is an illusion that is so insidious as to result in men who rejoice in their chains while calling them freedom. 

Free Indeed

There is but one who is able to set men free, and the stroke that can set a person free is the power of Truth
constantly applied through the once and forever uttered Word:


[31] Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32] and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
33] They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?"
34] Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
35] The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
36] So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 
Man's bondage is sin, and sin is rooted in the love of life in this world.  There is no freedom for anyone who remains chained to life and manacled by the compulsion to save it.  Jesus is the only one who can set men free, because he is the only one who has uttered the Truth in the world and followed up by demonstrating the Truth by his crucifixion.  He stated the Truth many ways, of which this is one:


    He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
In this terse statement is the Truth that makes us free. The love of life is the chain that binds the entire world.  This is the chain that binds human beings, for all who submit to this bond are of the world and can never break free by any other means.  Only Jesus is able to strike of this chain and detach one from the world with glorious freedom because he is the only one who understands the bondage.
    No one finds freedom while yet bound to the world, and the shackle that binds everyone is the same as that binding the world, the love of life.  Therefore, while the bond to the world remains intact due to the love of life, one remains of the world and subject to the judgment by which the world is judged.  It is for this reason that becoming detached from the world is of supreme importance to every disciple of Jesus and this is accomplished by one means according to the Word of Truth  -- the casting off of the shackle of the love of life.  Those who follow Jesus in doing this are free indeed.

    The freedom that only comes through the Word of Truth is absolute freedom.  All other "freedom" is relative freedom.  Relative freedom means that some have more freedom than others, but are yet subject to bondage in some degree.  Within the scale of relative freedom there are different varieties of freedom and bondage, including political, economic, personal, financial, social and many others but always a high degree of bondage remains.  The most powerful bondage is internal and subjective, in which case the bound are often unaware of their bondage even while they boast of their freedom.

    Absolute freedom is that defined by Jesus as freedom indeed, and he is the only liberator:
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

    Nationalism, Patriotism and War

    The whole world is in bondage and displays many manifestations of its bonds. Racism in America is only one manifestation.  Men love their lives and therefore they hate whoever or whatever appears to threaten life's treasures.  The one who is different by being "not of us" is immediately suspect.  That one may take my job, steal my money, rape my child, raise my taxes, mismanage my government -- and so racism rolls on, active and vigorous. But there is no manifestation more powerful than the ones that fuel wars around the globe and throughout history -- nationalism and patriotism.

    In what follows, please understand that war is not the culprit.  Nationalism is not the culprit. Patriotism is not the culprit. These are only the manifestations of the hidden bondage.  The culprit is the root cause of all evils, which is the love of life.  Jesus identifies this universal bondage of the world when he says:


[6] And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7] For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, . . ..
I was in bondage in July of 1944.  It was in that month I entered the U. S. Navy, fully devoted to doing whatever was necessary to defeat my nation's enemies.  I was dancing to this tune:
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,
And we'll all stay free.
But I was not free.

July of 1947, three full years later, might have ended my bondage, for in that month I resolved to become a disciple of Jesus, partly -- perhaps primarily -- motivated by a desire to break free from war, which had just wreaked so much misery on the human race. I read his Sermon on the Mount and I believed that he could liberate me from that horror. But I focussed on the symptom rather than the cause.

I was not free.

In April, 1951, the burden of a continuing association with the U. S. Navy became severe because the nation was entering into the Korean War.  I felt I could no longer maintain my status in the Navy Reserve and be a disciple of Jesus, therefore I resigned from the military.  I had hoped this would set me free, this detachment from the fighting force, and for a time it satisfied me.  But there followed the seemingly interminable Viet Nam War and, though not associated with the military, I was yet bound by nationalism and patriotism.  I was yet an American and, as such, shared a responsibility for that conflict.

I was not free.
But finally I was seeing the light of freedom, and realizing the cause of my bondage.  So, on May 19, 1979, I renounced citizenship in the United States of America, having full recognition of the significance of this act.   This gave me some relief, but failed to settle the matter of my enslavement.  I had broken the bond with military service, with war and with the nation, yet something remained. I felt much better, like a partial liberation had taken place.  But it was not total, and I knew it.

I was not free.

Never did I relinquish my trust in Jesus my Lord.  But I had for so long permitted myself to be influenced by the false testimony of churchmen that their bondage remained my bondage and I could not break free without making their freedom suspect in my own mind.  Who was I to say they were not free?  I finally understood that my hope of freedom did not lie in them but in Jesus alone.  So I began an intense reevaluation of his teaching from the gospels and took to writing a book for my own sake in the hope it would put things in better focus.  It did.

I had finally realized the root of my bondage when the book was published in 1995. I had really been free since becoming a disciple in 1947 but failed to understand it and so remained confused and bound by the fetters of the world.  By casting off those fetters one by one, at last the fetter of fetters was exposed. It is the love of life.

I was free at last!

Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah, King of Kings, Holy Son of the Father, Perfect and True Word, has detached me from the world and made me free indeed.  He did that by unveiling the chain of chains that binds all human beings.

Freedom is at once both certain and at risk. It is sure and certain while one abides in the Word.  But one of the essential components of freedom indeed  is the continuing freedom of the will that leaves one free to return to bondage.  I am free to depart from his Word but should I do so, freedom is lost forever.  The world constantly confronts me with temptations to do this very thing.  Apart from the immediate prospect of the loss of life itself, there is no temptation stronger than those of nationalism, patriotism, and war.  These things are insidious, inviting, deceptive.  They paradoxically present themselves as freedom's only defense while reaching out to bind the free and deprive them of freedom indeed.  And precisely as it is the Truth that makes me free, It is the Lie that constantly seeks to make me its slave.  No one has expressed the lie more effectively than this poet:

Richard le Galliene
War I abhor, and yet how sweet
The sound along the marching street
Of fife and drum, and I forget
Wet eyes of widows, and forget
Broken old mothers and the whole
Dark butchery without a soul;
Without a soul, save this bright drink
Of heavy music, sweet as hell;
And even my peace-abiding feet
Go marching with the marching street,
For yonder, yonder goes a fife,
And what care I for human life?
The tears fill my astonished eyes,
And my full heart is like to break,
And yet 'tis all embannered lies,
A lie those little drummers make.

Oh, it is wickedness to clothe those horrid, grinning things which stalk

Hidden in music, like a queen
Who in a garden in glory walks,
Till good men love the things they loathe.
Art, thou hast many infamies,
But not an infamy like this.
Oh, snap the fife, and still the drum,
And know the monster as she is.
Peace and Freedom

Men are continually going to war to preserve their "freedom."  The moment they do, they lose their peace.  If they win their war, they keep their "freedom" and restore their peace until some other enemy threatens their lives and drives them once more to war to preserved their "freedom." If they lose their war, they lose their "freedom" but they have no peace because they are continually plotting how to again wage war and regain their "freedom."  So, again comes war.

Why is it that intelligent human beings haven't figured this out?  Why have they not understood that as long as they are seeking both peace and freedom as men of the world, they have no security of either peace or freedom? Why are they unable to discern the inherent incompatibility of the two?

And why is it, then, that they turn to Jesus and ask him to bring peace to the world and grant them both freedom and peace? And why do they fail to see that he has never answered such a prayer?  And why do they fail to understand that he will never do so?

It isn't because he hasn't told them:


[34] Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.


[27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
The peace of Jesus, like the freedom of Jesus, is available to anyone, but only on an individual basis.  It is available right this minute, but only to the one who detaches from the world so as to qualify.  Jesus came not to bring either peace of freedom to the world, for to do so would require the coercion of the independent human will. The only reason why men do not understand this and realize the true answer to all these questions is their inability to hear him.  They mouth the words -- they ponder the impossibilities -- but they do not really hear him.  It they would only listen to him, one of the first things they would learn is exactly why they do not hear him:


[41] They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
42] Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.
44] You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
45] But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  


The world's fundamental bondage is the love of life.  While it endures (and it will endure) humans have neither peace nor freedom, but only the constant delusion that, like bait at the end of a long stick, recedes from them as fast as they are able to approach it. It is only by the power of the Word that the bond can be broken, and that only by individuals as they repent and open their minds and hearts to Truth.  

You may fight and pray and hope for both peace and freedom all the days of your life in this world but you will never find either of them.  Or, you can open your heart to the Word right now and receive both as a free gift, perfect and secure. Then you will be truly detached from the world and it will be precisely as Jesus said of all such persons:


[14] I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15] I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.
16] They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
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