With the 4th of July yesterday, I started reflecting on what the word “freedom” means. It is actually a pretty complex subject if you think about the different ways the word is used. From a political standpoint, as Americans, our minds almost immediately go to the strengths of a democracy. From a religious standpoint we think about the freedom that is found in Christ. When we think of it from a social context, we are drawn to tolerance and our freedom of choice on many different aspects of our lives.
I could keep going, but the point that my thinking focused on yesterday was the difference in the freedom found in America compared to the freedom found in Haiti. There are similarities between the country that should lend themselves to very similar freedoms. Both countries boast democratically elected leaders, are predominantly Christian, and in theory allow for at least some social freedom. So why are the countries so different? Why is one country the wealthiest in the western hemisphere and the other the poorest? Does a democracy genuinely foster freedom? Is social freedom as important as Americans believe it to be?
Here is what I came up with, and it may or may not be correct. It seems like there are 2 types of freedom that we fight for and grapple with as individuals, societies, and Christians. There is the formally stated idea of freedom that says, “We have the power to make our lives whatever we want them to be through choices and perseverance.” Then there is the informal type of freedom where our freedom is actually bound by our circumstances, our abilities, our thoughts, our governments, and anything else that can stand in the way of true freedom.
Freedom is a difficult topic. Are you truly free if there are laws that restrict what you can and cannot do? Are you truly free if you have the freedom but not the ability to do the things that you want? Would you rather have freedom or food (this question is more posed to someone who understands what it means to be starving rather than the reader of this blog)? Is independence (which is what we actually celebrated yesterday) the same as freedom? Do you subscribe to Patrick Henry’s famous quote, “Give me liberty or give me death”?
I want to tell you that I have seen a lot of people in Haiti who are hurting, starving, and can barely make it through the day and they do not look free. I have seen people in America who seem to have everything and live in one of the freest countries in the world, but they sure do not look free. I started to wonder if freedom is just an ideal that we strive for but can never reach.
Then I realized something, that there is actually only one type of true freedom because there is only one type of freedom that is not bound by physical, societal, or logical laws. No matter how hard anyone fights and searches for freedom it will not be found, at least not perfectly in this world.
True Freedom is Only Found In Christ.
Even the pursuit of freedom, in a lot of ways, prevents us from being truly free. But when we stop pursuing freedom and we pursue Christ, we end up with both. Here is freedom: Right now, no matter what I do or say, Christ saved me. Do you understand what that means and how that relates to freedom?
There is nothing else like it. How could there be? And this is the only freedom worth having, the kind that cannot and will not go away, the kind that cannot be taken, and the kind that will last for eternity.
So let’s celebrate independence, democracy, and even the freedom that we have as citizens of America. They are worth celebrating and they are more than most people will ever have in this world. But let’s not get confused about what freedom is. True freedom is not a conditional state that could go away with the wrong leaders, the wrong catastrophe, or the wrong form of government. True freedom lasts forever, is unconditional, and is only found in Christ.
“It is for Freedom that Christ has set us Free.” – Galatians 5:1