Je suis Charlie. Three words that will define a moment in history; a moment when a nation gathered together as one in defiance of fear. It’s a moment that has drawn people from every background and unified them, and, in the face of evil, freedom has triumphed, and good has prevailed.
It’s made me proud of our title: Liberti and it’s got me thinking. In the images of pens held high in the air as a symbol of freedom, I’ve remembered the writers of old who could not be terrorised into silence. Those writers who set the standard for freedom of speech; who, beaten and whipped, picked up their pens in their bloodied hands and wrote letters of freedom from jail.
Writers like Paul, who in the face of death just kept on writing about the greatest story that’s ever been told. Who said to his oppressors; you can torture and imprison me, you can arrest me and feed me to the lions, but you cannot take away my freedom – my choice to proclaim freedom to all who will hear.
It’s the story of Moses who came in from the desert and faced Pharoah, to tell him to “Let my people go”. It’s the story of three men who found freedom in a Babylonian fire, and a queen who risked death to ask her King to give God’s people a fighting chance.
It’s the story of Jesus who, betrayed, arrested, flogged and nailed to a cross, proclaimed ‘Father forgive them,” and bought freedom for us all. Freedom to all who would take it. Freedom to all who would dare follow him, look death in the eye and say, “Where is your victory? Where is your sting? Do you know who I am? Je suis Jesus.”
But we forget who we are. We forget that we have Jesus, Son of the Living God, conqueror of death, living in us. We forget the power and authority that brings. Instead, we let our fears confine us; literally bind us up and stop us being all that we were created to be. We let fear win. We stop writing, we don’t speak up, we don’t step out – we don’t even dare to dream.
It’s time to change, it’s time to regain some of that New Testament spirit that said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” That spirit that called out; “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Freedom isn’t standing on top of a hill with you arms in the air and the wind blowing your hair. It’s not a Disney construct or an image on Instagram. Freedom was the centrepiece of God’s creation. It’s knowing that in all things you have choice. That no matter where you find yourself, no matter who torments you, no matter the physical chains that bind you, you can choose, you can be just like Jesus.
So my challenge today is this: that thing that you’re not doing because you’re too afraid – do it. Talk to your neighbour, resolve that conflict, give that money, change that career, tell that person about Jesus, tell every person about Jesus. Don’t let the fear define you, don’t let the bully tell you who you are. Stand tall, stand proud and make Liberti your rally cry.