Sia’s “Free Me” and Our Freedom in Christ

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Sia’s newest song, “Free Me,” is gripping and absolutely discussion-worthy with the teens in our lives. In the music video, actress Zoe Saldana portrays a woman who discovers her pregnancy is threatened by a diagnosis of HIV. Saldana captures the shock and fear beautifully, as she is haunted by dancers who swirl around her, pushing and pulling her in every direction.

Surely, this must capture the inner-turmoil of a women in a similar situation. It certainly captures the inner-turmoil of a broken world.

The lyrics begin,

I don’t want to hold your gaze
, I’m scared what I might see there

found my self forgiveness place, 
and I’m a burning fire

Peace may come
, hope it won’t take long


just a faith I cannot see
, bring me hope

I’m in the art alone, 
just me and my melody

Free me, free me from this pain I’ve been running from,


I’m tired and I’m free falling


Free me, free me from this shame I’ve been running from,


I’m lost and I am calling you

I don’t have a way back down
, stepping even further


take my hand and turn me around, I’m listening to myself

As Saldana struggles against her fears and helplessness, she seems to cry out for salvation, recovery from her disease. A woman appears who slowly leads her into “freedom.” This character represents Saldana’s cure, someone from the outside who appears as a light in the darkness and brings deliverance from the danger. Honestly, it’s a beautiful expression of rescue from hopelessness and despair. The protagonist cries out for freedom, knowing that rescue must come from somewhere beyond herself.

By the end of the video, Saldana is holding her baby, who appears to be in good health. It is difficult to imagine someone watching this video without sharing her expression of total relief and joy.

Sia has pledged all proceeds from the song to go towards the #endHIV campaign, in an effort to help fund a new vaccine against HIV/AIDS in need of the final push (it is currently seeking FDA approval for human trials). Her music video does a wonderful job expressing the devastation that HIV brings into so many lives, and explains at the end that it is the number one killer of women of child-bearing age, worldwide. Read more about the vaccine and the Abzyme Research Foundation who is developing it at endhiv.com.

Talking Points with Teens:
While few of our youth know what it is like to personally experience a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, depression and anxiety continue to skyrocket, and so does the accompanying hopelessness and despair. Last month’s 13 Reasons Why reminded us of the cry for freedom so many teens live with.

Freedom is the primary cry of “Free Me.” Again, consider the chorus:

Free me, free me from this pain I’ve been running from,
I’m tired and I’m free falling,
Free me, free me from this shame I’ve been running from,
I’m lost and I am calling you.

The good news of Jesus Christ is a message of rescue and hope. Notice how the rescuer in the video enters as this light in the dark, and the dancers seem to scoff and shudder in her presence. She reaches out and grabs Saldana’s hand and leads her into the light.

In the spiritual sense, we can all identify with the feeling of being trapped by our sin, guilt, and shame. Despite our own best efforts, we cannot free ourselves – we must cry out to the only Savior, “Free me!” Indeed, there is no salvation without confession, “Lord Jesus, be my rescue from sin!”

Christianity proclaims a gospel that brings life to the perishing, joy to the sorrowful, and fullness to the desperate in the person of Jesus Christ.

John explains the reason why he wrote the Gospel of John was, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Life is found through faith in Jesus. Through the cross and empty tomb, he conquered all our darkness – Satan, sin, and death.

His victory is our victory. His life is our life. His joy is our joy.

In our eagerness to address the obvious spiritual overtones of this song let us not, however, overlook the power of the song to help raise HIV/AIDS awareness. I’m no scientist – I cannot offer helpful evaluation regarding the scientific plausibility of the ARF’s vaccine. But it is an admirable cause that I genuinely hope succeeds in bringing hope and healing to those who live with HIV/AIDS. This song and video provide us opportunity to help students learn about the daily reality of so many who suffer from the global HIV pandemic.

Encourage students to read through the Gospel of Mark and see the power of Jesus on display: healing the sick, casting out demons, performing miracles, authority over nature. In our ministries, may we continue to proclaim that Jesus is the savior of those who repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).

When Jesus sent out his disciples in Matthew 10:5-8 he instructed them, “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”

The gospel is the Christian’s motivation to care for those who suffer, in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. “Free Me” is a song that literally cries out for a rescuer. May we engage Sia’s captivating song with our teens, encouraging them to proclaim Christ and demonstrate his compassion to those who suffer both spiritually and physically.

Most of all, may we point them towards the only source of true freedom – the freedom we’ve been given in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

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