In a poignant moment in episode 10, “One Way Out”, Cassian and another prisoner discover that the captives who finish their sentence don’t get released—they get sent to a new prison. Cassian realizes that there is only “one way out“ of imprisonment: death. The potential of dying in an attempt to escape is better than dying trapped in captivity. He is able to convince the other prisoners around him of this, and it soon becomes a prison-wide break, with Cassian and the others refusing to leave any of their fellow inmates to the fate that will befall them.
This kind of injustice is grave indeed and many today resonate with it. They see a broken world in which injustice runs rampant and there is a strong cry for change. Some strive for a change in legislation. Others, who have lost faith in their government systems, have decided to create their own justice. Still others take the same road as Cassian, deciding to only look out for themselves and the few people they care for.
Christianity, on the other hand, offers a unique way of looking at injustices and the fundamental problem beneath it all: sin. Sin has soured people’s hearts. And just like there was only one way out of the prison in Andor, there is only one way out of sin: death. The penalty for sin is death (Ezekiel 18:20; James 1:14-15). However, just as the prisoners realize, death does not have to have the final say. God has defeated death through the sacrifice of Jesus, making a cross-shaped path through death that leads to eternal life (Romans 6:22-23; I Corinthians 15:55-57).
A Glorious Prison
There is a short clip in the movie God’s Not Dead in which an old woman vividly describes the kind of prison that sin has put many in: “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave.” In many ways, it would have been easier for the prisoners in Andor to not break out of the jail. They were fed, had community, and were given a roof over their heads and a bed. Life in captivity was planned. They believed that if they were good enough and lived out their sentence in prison, then they could get themselves out.
We can become brainwashed into thinking that if we simply go about our day-to-day lives living by the rules we are supposed to, life will be alright. Life in prison is not too bad. Perhaps it’s not ideal, but we are happy. Maybe we can even find true purpose within those four walls.
Too often, we accept what is given to us and forget that there is something outside—something better. The captives knew they had to try to escape because they recognized that life in the prison wasn’t true life. They realized that what they were working towards—their ultimate purpose in life—wasn’t in the prison. The inmates could never find purpose there. They wanted to see the outside world again and breathe the fresh air of freedom. Life in captivity would only keep getting worse.
No matter how dressed up a jail cell is, it is still just that. Our true purpose can never be found within the cold walls of the prison of sin. Those who are fooled or fool themselves into believing the opposite live life believing a lie. Everyone must choose whether they are going to trust that lie or pursue the Truth. The true Christ-follower cannot live life in the doorway of captivity. She must choose to actively pursue the freedom that Christ gives (Galatians 5:13).
Choosing a Side
Even so, many chose to be slaves to sin, following the wide path which leads to destruction, without even knowing or accepting it as wrong. There are plenty of Christians who try to live without choosing a side. It can be difficult to let go of our old nature that wants the world and everything it has to offer. Yet, as Christians, our purpose in life is to seek and serve God and his Kingdom (James 4:8; Matthew 6:33). Not to serve God out of duty, but out of a desire to because we love, know, and enjoy him. We cannot serve God without first dying to ourselves—dying to the sin that corrupts us. It isn’t possible to serve both ourselves and God at the same time (Matthew 6:24). Thankfully, Christians are not alone when it comes to putting off this old self. Christ has freed us as Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” We have been given God’s Holy Spirit to help us in this fight, if we are only willing to take his hand and let him help us.
Living Out True Purpose
Christ offers true freedom that cannot be found anywhere else (2 Corinthians 3:17). It is not the freedom to do whatever we want (which in fact is license, not freedom), but rather freedom from the sin that haunts each and every one of us. It is the freedom to live as we were created to—and in so doing, to fulfill the purpose for which we were created.
How can we as Christ-followers do this practically? By continually choosing Christ and his sacrifice over our old sin nature; by reading his Word; by listening to what the Holy Spirit prompts us to do; by serving others (1 Peter 2:16-17); and by worshiping God in all that we do. God says that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). We honor him when we choose these things. There is so much goodness and beauty in the world that we can see more clearly and vibrantly through the lens of pursuing the relationship Christ offers to us on a daily basis.
Following Christ doesn’t mean that we will never sin again—God knows we will! It means we are no longer trapped in the cell of sin. We are in the open air of freedom, and each day we can choose to take a step further away from the cell and closer to God. By choosing to crucify our pride and to ask for forgiveness, God redeems each and every misstep.
There is only one way out of sin: death (Galatians 2:20). Christ redefines what that means because his death was more than sufficient to pay our fine. By faith, we are called to continually die to our old sin nature. When we do, Christ gives us new life, allowing us to become more like him. He doesn’t simply explain why there is injustice in the world: he heals it, too. By taking a risk and choosing to seek and serve Christ, we too can be healed. Christ has set us free from death (Romans 8:2). We know that when we call on the Lord in the midst of our distress, he answers and frees us (Psalm 118:5; John 8:32). We can breathe the air of true freedom by living out our true purpose.
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