I grew up during the Cold War – a period of tremendous international distrust and fear of eminent world war. Even in remote parts of the Amazonian jungle in eastern Peru, where I lived during my early childhood, we had a place to hide when the alarm was sounded that, “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!”
As in Bible times, everyone had spies (Numbers 21: 32; Joshua 2: 1; Luke 20: 20), also known as secret agents, or at least, that’s what most of us were led to believe. Spies acted in various ways, usually, though, it was either to steal secrets to use to their countries’ advantage, or to hinder progress by destroying tactical infrastructure.
The intrigue with spies and secret agents during the Cold War was so great that a plethora of movies and television shows was produced about them, even spoofy ones (and the entertainment industry is bringing them back). While these shows often didn’t specifically name the country that sponsored the bad guys (the good guys were nearly always American or British), they usually had eastern European accents and most people could easily identify them with what we eventually came to call “The Evil Empire,” or some other communist country.
While the cause for concern was real, the fear imposed by this distrust caused all sorts of wasted efforts, even totally incapacitating some people because they just didn’t feel free to be themselves. Although it also likely was the driving force behind the rapid technological advances we enjoy today associated with the Space Age, home computers and other electronic gadgets, and the Internet.
Interestingly, while we feared the Evil Empire, the citizens of that Union not only feared us, they feared their own government, too, because it was apparently also spying on its own citizens. Additionally, like us, those citizens had previously thrown off an oppressive government; but, unlike us, their new government appeared to become even more oppressive.
People inherently know that there’s a good and there’s an evil with appropriate rewards for each (Genesis 2: 4-3: 24; Romans 6: 23; Revelation 2: 10; 2 Corinthians 5: 10). God has told us right and wrong and it’s Christians’ responsibility to spread the word so the world will know (Romans 4: 15; 7: 7; Hebrews 5: 11-14; Matthew 28: 18-20; Acts 8: 26-39). Still most, if not all, world cultures have a code of morals, even if they don’t know about God specifically because we’re all descendants of the Adam and Eve who ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Romans 2: 12-16; 1: 18-20).
Christians are called to be a people of freedom. This includes freedom from the oppression of peer pressure to sin (1 Peter 4: 3-5; Psalm 1: 1-3; Proverbs 1: 10, 15); the burden of sin’s guilt and shame imposed by our accuser, the devil (Revelation 12: 10; James 4: 7; John 8: 10, 11, 34-36; Romans 8: 33, 34); and the fear of sin’s consequences (1 John 4: 13-18; Romans 8: 12-15).
The Cold War came to an end through diplomacy, partially because we had a Law and Order President the Evil Empire knew would keep his promises; but, also probably because their leadership realized the value of the freedom American citizens enjoy.
When Christians appropriately act as free people, others will want to know about it – they may actually spy on our freedom to learn how it works (Galatians 5: 4; Luke 20: 20). OK, some may do this to cause problems, like destroying infrastructure (2 Peter 2: 1-3; Jude : 3, 4; 1 Peter 2: 16; Galatians 5: 13; Romans 16: 17-19); but, others will be genuinely interested (Luke 8: 1-15). Hence, we’re to be ready to talk about our freedom (1 Peter 2: 11, 12; 3: 15, 16). Those, then, who are genuinely interested will accept the message and gladly change their citizenship to become part of God’s kingdom, the church (Matthew 11: 12; Philippians 3: 17-21; Hebrews 12: 17-29; Colossians 1: 13, 14).
By the way, after I’d begun drafting this article, I was greatly privileged to hear a sermon on freedom at the church in Tucumcari. If you haven’t been to church lately, you ought to go there and spy on the freedom Christians have in Christ Jesus. Wherever you go, compare what’s taught with all of scripture to be sure that citizens of the real evil empire haven’t slipped in destructive heresies (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15; 2
Thessalonians 2: 9-11; 2 John 2: 24-27).
Hopefully, without having to spy, you’re also seeing our Christian freedom in how we live our lives every day. When you do see it, ask about it. You can call me anytime (461-4421; 2 Corinthians 4: 1-7).
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ