Justice, the Dentist, and Freedom

(This post was written by Phil Bledsoe, Technical Director)

This is my final blog for the FP worship staff and this could be a little dangerous. My mind is going a hundred miles a minute about the last words I could say from this angle of life. Bear with me as I try to make sense of my thoughts.

I should be clearer. The church has been more than gracious over these last few years to allow me to go off for a few days and do some concerts. It’s been a chance for me to have a taste of the life I came from, the road. It’s also been a chance for me to keep up with changing technology and methods and bring this experience back and apply it to my job here.  Early this year I requested a chance to go out with one of my favorite artists. At the time, I had no idea that this would be my last week here. 

I just arrived home from my weekend with this artist at the Mighty Waters Conference in Pasadena, CA. It was a shock to the system in many ways. The conference was held at a Seminary and it was a call to pastors and church leaders-a call to justice. It was definitely a different type of conference-no arena, no opener, no big names-but the intimacy created a focus that couldn’t be avoided.  I began the event like I usually do. I finished the music set and went to the green room to relax. It wasn’t long before I began hearing the different speakers and I was drawn back into the conference. I happened upon church. 

One of the question and answer sessions was aimed at the president of the International Justice Mission. The question that stuck in my mind was, ‘…you can change people and you can affect people but you can’t change the world…how do you respond to a statement like that?’ His answer was simply, ‘so what?’  He carried on by saying ‘do unto others’ is such simple love. Put yourself in a place of horror and peril. There’s a person outside the door of that place of horror and peril who could help you. They stand outside and say, ‘ya know-we could help them but we can’t save the world…’ You, standing on the inside, in pain, would be looking around saying, ‘so what? I’m RIGHT HERE!’ What do you do with that scenario?

Let me take a different approach. I did a concert for a morning service at a church in Seattle this morning. The bass player for the church band gave me a ride to the airport. We were talking many life stories and he said the most average thing to me. ‘It is for freedom, you’ve been set free’. Why don’t we speak to each other like this anymore?  It was such truth but people don’t speak that truth much anymore. In light of the conference-which this man was not a part of- I began to dissect that statement. It is for FREEDOM, you’ve been set free. If we change the word FREEDOM in that sentence in our lives, then we change the entire reason of our being set free. It is for STRESS, we’ve been set free. It is for FEAR, we’ve been set free. It is for POWER, we’ve been set free. No. None of that works. It is for FREEDOM-only. What do we do with this freedom? Do we live in fear? Do we stress about things to come? Do we manipulate for power? (Fill in your vice) Or do we pass on this freedom that we’ve been given?

I’ve been caught up in the rat race. I’ve been pedal to the floor for this thing. I had it in my heart to take this freedom that I’d been given and share it. I did not. I worked, I cried, I laughed, I dodged but I did not give freedom. I’m not even sure what that looks like in my life. In other words, I’m only sure of what I did, not really sure of what I didn’t yet could have.

I didn’t get to say all the things that have been burning in my heart this weekend. This is a blog, not a book. But I’ll end with one story:

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Voices of Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster’. As God was taking a sledgehammer to my heart this weekend, I read this part:

            There is a parable about a man who lived in Jerusalem, past whose house Christ was taken, and he saw and heard everything, but his tooth hurt. He watched Christ fall while carrying the cross, watched him fall and cry out. He saw all of this, but his tooth hurt, so he didn’t run outside. Two days later, when his tooth stopped hurting, people told him that Christ had risen, and he thought: “I could have been a witness to it. But my tooth hurt.”

Oh Jesus, heal our mouths and renew our hearts to not miss you as you walk by in our lives. Show us the freedom for which you have set us free and charge us to pass on this gift you’ve given.