Freedom, Responsibility and Mission Possible

      I’m sure you remember the television series, Mission: Impossible. A hallmark of the series is when Jim Phelps, the leader of IMF, receives his instructions via a self-destructing recording. The message: “Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to _________.”

In 1994, my husband and I were sent to Novosibirsk Siberia. No, we weren’t ordered to the Gulag. And no, we weren’t asked to star in a remake of Dr. Zhivago. 🙂

Our assignment: to work with the Co-Mission, a project involving 80+ churches and organizations. Our mission: to train teachers how to teach a curriculum called Christian Ethics and Morality—the Foundation for a New Society. 

The invitation originated from the showing of the Jesus Film in Russia. Six months after the film premiered in 1989, education officials from 15 communist countries and republics had requested the film be shown in their public schools. Eventually, the Jesus Film Project created the International School Project. In 1991 , the ISP was invited to organize four-day convocations to introduce the curriculum to teachers in 10 different countries.

The Co-Mission grew out of the need for long-term follow-up to the convocations. Teams were organized to move into the various cities for at least a year. (We stayed for three years.) The Russian Ministry of Education and the CoMission signed a Protocol of Intention. This provided for a five-year partnership to develop the morals and ethics program.      

Seems like an improbable if not impossible mission, doesn’t it? Little did we know how short-lived the open window would be. In 1995, the Ministry of Education suspended the Protocol of Intention. This was  due to various reasons, including the misgivings of the Russian Orthodox Church. (For more information, look on the internet for Perry Glanzer’s article A Troubled Troika: The CoMission, the Russian Minsitry of Education, and the Russian Orthodox Church. )    

By the time our team arrived in Novosibirsk, the local authoritites had already closed the schools to the CoMission. Reluctantly, they allowed us to conduct conferences outside the schools. God turned a catastrophe into a successful mission. Teachers packed out the various venues and God worked in miraculous ways.  

For the most part, the Russian people were spiritually hungry and appreciative of their new freedom. However, I was surprised by the comment of one older woman I met. She suggested she’d rather be back under the rule of communism. How could this be?

Perhaps oppression was more comfortable to her than freedom. Try to place yourself in the mind of this Russian babushka. Your concept of God has been whitewashed from your brain. You’ve lived in bondage so long you’ve forgotten anything else. And then suddenly you’re free.

From her viewpoint, which do you think is easier and less threatening?

*an iron hand that meets your basic needs but leaves you no freedom of thought and movement?  or

*the freedom to dream with the responsibility to pursue your God-given destiny?

Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? And yet, the responsibility of freedom can be daunting, even to us. As a believer, are you sometimes overwhelmed with your freedom to make choices? I am. True freedom wields a heavy responsibility, doesn’t it?

It helps us to remember our Lord is not an iron-handed God. Scripture assures us:

  • God’s hand doesn’t place us under bondage, but delivers us from it. (Exodus 13:3)
  • God’s hand protects us and shatters our enemy. (Exodus 15)
  • God’s hand guides us and keeps us secure. (Psalm 139:10; John 10:28)
  • God’s hand is mighty and reaches out to draw non-believers to Himself. (I Kings 8:42)

Nor is our Lord an over-bearing God. He doesn’t barge into our lives uninvited. Rather, He draws us to the door of our hearts with cords of love. (Hosea 11:4) And then Jesus patiently knocks and presents us with a challenge.  “. . IF anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)

What about our day-to-day lives? Does God force His agenda on us? No. He’s a gentle shepherd, who entreats us to follow Him. The freedom to choose to love and obey God is a hallmark of our faith. Of course, there will always be consequences when we disobey, but it’s still our choice to make.

In John 14:6, Jesus presents a mission “to the Jews who had believed him,” and to us, as well. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . . So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

God offers us endless opportunities for spiritual growth, adventure, and productivity. That is, if we choose to accept the challenges He presents. Yes, great responsibility is required to enjoy our freedom in Christ. And yes, we will face difficulties when we choose to follow Him. But God’s Word promises it will be well worth the struggles.

Is God calling you to an improbable mission? Take heart. He’s not a God of probabilities. Our Lord is the God of absolutes and with Him, all things are possible.


4 Responses to “Freedom, Responsibility and Mission Possible”
  1. Ginny Brant says:

    Great post Liz. You need to make this blog so it can be shared on facebook. This is what my father learns in the end — that true freedom is found in following God’s will for your life.

  2. Wow, I never knew that about you, Liz. What an awesome opportunity! But yes, as an American, I can’t imagine being under that kind of rule. In comparing that kind of dictatorial relationship with our Father, I can see the need to obey because of fear. But how much better to want to obey because of love and devotion.

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