I read a story this week about some of the details surrounding the release of prisoners of war as World War II was ending. The year was 1945 and plans for the release of Japanese prisoners were being outlined. The U. S. Army had devised a route the prisoners were to take in order for them to safely return to their homeland.
The Bilibid Prison Concentration Camp in Manila was going to be empty for the first time in years. Men would be arriving home to rejoin their families. The good news for Americans and Japanese alike was simple. The war was over.
One thing the average person might not think of, is the importance of following the details of release to the letter. In this case, the prisoners were given an exact route to take. Any deviation from the given route would be taken as an act of aggression. Not only was the safety of the prisoners at stake, but also the safety of their captors.
The majority of the prisoners followed their instructions exactly. They were so happy to receive their freedom, nothing could have persuaded them from following the prescribed route. They had been released, and arriving home to families was their goal.
The tragedy of the story involves a small group of prisoners who decided they knew a better route. They knew a different way, which in their minds, was quicker and easier to achieve their freedom. Their decision to deviate from the route given proved fatal. American troops given the task of overseeing the release followed orders, seeing the disobedience as an act of aggression. This group of prisoners died because they did not place their trust in the instructions given, and instead chose to follow their own wisdom.
I tell you this story to illustrate how typical it is in today's world. I may have a tough time convincing you of this, but most people today are imprisoned by something. In our land which prides itself being based on freedom and liberty, we have allowed many things to keep us in bondage. The obvious things we think of are alcoholism, drug addiction, or any habit which has us under its control. There are also things like gluttony, gossip, hatred, racial discrimination, dishonesty, and the list goes on. The basis of all of these constitute what God calls.......sin.
God has clearly given us the route we need to take in order for us to realize liberty and freedom from the imprisonment which sin brings. We have His directions to lead us in our escape. In the gospel of Christ, we have his promise to be "the way, the truth and the life," for each one of us. Not only that, we as Christians are to go into the world with his message which frees us from the guilt, the misery, and the penalty of our sins. We are his ambassadors in leading others to his love and forgiveness.