It was June 1987 as we watched President Ronald Reagan on TV. He stood at the Brandenburg Gate of the Berlin Wall, which separated West Germany from the oppressed East Germany. Flags representing freedom hung boldly for the public in the West to see.
In his speech, Reagan issued a famous decree to the leader of the Communist Party, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Two years later, with the collapse of the Communist regime, the wall was dismantled in a very public celebration. Emotions and tears flowed freely as a people were liberated from over four decades of oppression. The Berlin event was representative of a liberation that stretched far beyond the concrete walls.
Just a few years later, my family was privileged to move to Germany. We studied its history, toured the land, and visited the now defunct, historic wall. We even have a piece of it as a keepsake.
Though we can tell you about it, and describe its significance in history, it does not have the same meaning to us as it does to the soldier who fought to liberate those imprisoned by communism. It was important to us but our understanding pales in comparison to that of the widow of one who died trying to stand for freedom. We celebrated but we could never fully understand with the eyes of the child who had only known desperation behind the Iron Curtain.
If we were to speak about the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, I hope that I could communicate how significant this event was in history. But just knowing the facts has not really changed me; knowing about it hasn’t significantly altered the way I live.
There are countless other examples of which many of us can relate. I can tell you where I was when I heard about the crash into the first of the twin towers on 9-11 and how I spent the remainder of the day. We’ve all been affected in some way by wars, the assassination of world leaders and Presidents, nuclear threats, stock markets crashing, and, now, even pandemics. These may leave lasting scars and in no way do I want to minimize their impact. Yet, we move on, each in our own way.
But there is another, bigger story of hope and freedom. A greater story of victory and release from bondage. A story in which we are immersed as participants. There are many dramatic moments, many hardships and battles, but, ultimately, it is a love story. A love story greater than our ability to fully comprehend.
His creation was perfect. God and man living in harmony. Yet, the tragic reality of chosen sin is very evident. So evident, so prevalent, that at some level we have become accepting and comfortable with its existence, even in our own lives.
In the last nineteen weeks, we have celebrated the birth of our Savior and His death, burial, and resurrection. It’s easy to memorialize these events with sort-of an “I remember” Christmas and Easter date on the calendar, but did those happenings really change us? Now that the dates are past, the pages are turned, and we’ve paid homage to the occasion, what’s different?
The stories of Christmas and Easter is one story of God’s rescue of a fallen people: He stepped into His own creation to rescue, redeem, free a fallen people, oppressed by our own sin. This story – these real events – are an offer of hope for each of us who have sinned and fallen short of His glory.
The victory has been won, but the story is not over: God is going to restore His creation. There will be harmony, and peace, and perfect love.
You and I have a place in the story- His story – to help those in bondage see over the wall of their sinful existence, to help them see the opportunity of freedom. While freedom is available to all, many have not stepped out of the darkness to which they are accustomed.
This may even ring true of those of us who have come to the light of Jesus. We may have accepted the gift of freedom by submitting our lives to Him, and praise the Lord for that, but do we live as free men and women in the grace of His glory?
Do you know the facts? Do you have a few symbols to remind you? Have you read a few books on the subject?
Or has your life been changed because of a personal experience of rescue?
Have you been shaken you to the core, radically transformed by eternal hope and freedom bought by Jesus Christ? Have you been changed you to the point that you truly worship Him daily and share the good news like a living banner of love? Is God’s story real to us? Have we been changed or are we simply informed bystanders, tourist enjoying the celebration of others?
The prophet Samuel reminded the Israelites, “Above all, fear the Lord and worship Him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things He has done for you” (1 Sam 12:24). The apostle Paul took it a step further, instructing us to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom 12:2).
We should, forever, consider what He has done for us, what He has promised, and what He is doing, right now, for us. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the story of love and hope. It is the story of freedom and worthy of proclamation. Don’t let it simply be a historic moment. Let it change you forever.