Oct 7, 2010

Freeing The Prisoners

I've been turned down more in recent days when I ask people on the street if I can pray for them. The funny thing is - the people who don't want me to pray for them are often Christians. They usually tell me about the church they go to then offer a reason why they don't need my prayers. I've decided not to engage in debates. I don't try to convince them to let me pray with them. I smile and continue looking for people who want to be free.

I'm not as discouraged as I once was. It used to be more painful to be rejected, but I'm gradually accepting the fact that some people are comfortable with their pain, sickness, fear or whatever imprisons them. They've made a choice and I need to honor it. Apparently, God knew I was feeling a little rejected yesterday, so He gave me a dream last night to help illustrate the reality of His kingdom.

In the dream I was traveling to different locations. My job was to facilitate the closure of prisons. People in the areas I went to had voted to close certain prisons and to let the prisoners go free. My job was to make sure the prisons closed on time without any problems. I was a representative who had been given the authority to close the prisons. I went to many different prisons and helped in the process of of getting them closed.

Near the end of the dream, I went to one prison and asked if it was to be closed. I was told that I had no authority to close that one yet, because the people had not yet voted to close it. This was the end of the dream.

I asked God to help me understand the dream. Here's what I heard:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound
(Isaiah 61:1 - See also Luke 4:18)

God has been speaking with me lately about freedom; specifically about our choices and His decision not to overrule them. As an evangelical I was often taught about the sovereignty of God. I've leaned hard on this idea over the years, but I'm finding lately that the more I lean on it, the more it seems to be failing me.

The Old Testament often uses the title "Sovereign Lord." It was brought to my attention that this name was previously translated, "Lord Almighty". I hate long debates about theology, so I'll get to the point: I think many of us (myself included) have a faulty belief about the sovereignty of God. I've been under the impression that God always does whatever He wants, with little or no regard to what humans want. I think this belief is wrong.

I believe God is all powerful; that is to say He has the ability or power to do anything He wants. But I believe He honors the will of man much more than I've been comfortable with.

In my dream about closing prisons, a group of people had not yet voted to close a prison. Their decision was to keep it. And their decision had to be honored. Although God gave me authority as His representative to close some prisons and free the captives, that did not give me authority to overrule the free will of others. And this seems to be the main point God wants me to understand.

I've heard people teach that it's OK to cast demons out of people against their will. In studying the ministry of Jesus, I don't see that lived out. I'm often surprised at how low- key and unobtrusive the Lord was in ministering to people. He often simply asked, "What do you want from me?" In ministering to those oppressed by the enemy, Jesus first inquired, then gave according to what was asked for. He honored the desires and free will of others. Jesus didn't use His authority to violate the free will of those who were in bondage. He delivered those who wanted freedom.

In another recent dream, God spoke to me about having authority over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19) We do without question, have a great deal of authority in Christ. Using it properly seems to be the thing we struggle with. Perhaps the most common problem is not knowing the authority we have or not walking in it. Less common, but still problematic is choosing to wield our authority at a time when restraint might be the better thing.

Thanks for your time.

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