Theology Thursday: What Is Freedom?
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Today, I am going to write about the idea of freedom from a Christian perspective. So, to start, let me say that freedom is, at the same time, one of the most complicated and simplest topics I have ever thought about. Listen to these 2 definitions:
- The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
- The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
How simple are those definitions? They basically just say that freedom is the ability to do what we want to do.
Then, Galatians 5:1 is just awesome. "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."
How simple is that verse? Jesus did not set us free for an ulterior motive, or so that we would live for Him, or even so that we would not sin. He set us free simply because being free is better than not being free.
There is this idea in the world that Jesus died for us because He loved us, but to experience that love, we have to live perfect lives doing everything exactly one certain way...ABSOLUTELY NOT! Jesus did not die to save us and give us freedom just to then take that freedom away and make us slaves again. He set us free from sin and death simply because He loved us enough to set us free.
Freedom, however, is also a very difficult topic. If you think about it, freedom, at its core, is the ability to do anything that you want. Just look at any toddler who has just learned to walk and now thinks he/she can do anything. Look at any 16 year old who takes the car out for the first time and thinks they are invincible.
When laws, rules, and other limitations come into play, however, our freedom seems to get smaller and smaller. When you start driving and your parents start making you pick up your siblings. When you start making money and you realize that taxes, house payments, and electric bills cost a lot more than you thought. When you go off to college and realize that, to stay there, you are going to have learn how to wake yourself up and get yourself to class.
How does the simple concept of "freedom" play itself out in a complicated world where there are restrictions and laws that exist to seemingly take away your freedom at every turn?
How does the simple concept of "freedom" play itself out for you as a Christian when you realize that there are, with no doubt and no argument, things that you can do that will please GOD and things that you can do that will not please GOD?
The easiest thing that we can think about when it comes to freedom is what we have here in America. We can see the concept of freedom play itself out every day.
- We are free to own and drive cars...But at a certain speed.
- We are free to own and purchase firearms...But in certain places and with certain stipulations.
- We are free to practice our religion...But there are certain times and places where we have to be careful how we exercise that freedom.
- We are free to use roads, fire departments, etc...But we have to pay taxes to keep them going.
- We are free to kneel at the national anthem or gather for protest...But we have to live with the consequences of expressing those freedoms.
The problem is that freedom is hard, and it is exponentially harder when you are working with sinful beings who would take freedom for themselves at the expense of freedom for others. And that is our concept of freedom, so we assume that the freedom that GOD offers comes with those same stipulations, but we are wrong.
Just like anything else that comes from GOD, His freedom is perfect. Do we corrupt it by the way we live it out? Absolutely. Is it any less perfect because of how we handle it? Absolutely not.
As good as our freedom as Americans is, GOD's freedom is better. His death and resurrection gave us this type of freedom without asking anything in return so that when we become followers of Christ:
- No matter how we exercise our freedom, He loves us.
- Nothing in the entirety of creation can separate us from Him. Neither life nor death, height nor depth, angel nor demon, present nor future, nor any power will ever separate us from Him. Think about the type of freedom this affords.
- No matter what happens to us on earth, we can look forward to Heaven. We can live bold, big, sold out lives here on earth with the freedom to know that one day we will spend our eternity in His presence.
GOD gave us freedom because...well...It's freedom. We have the freedom to love Him. We have the freedom to live for Him. We have the freedom to do anything that we want with the full faith and knowledge and trust that we have the GOD of the universe fighting for us.
So how do I exercise this life-changing, strength-giving, world-altering freedom? One of my biggest fears is that I take the huge freedom that GOD gave me to live a huge life and I do nothing but ordinary things with it. I live my life watching television, driving my kids to and from practice, showing up at work on time and leaving on time, helping my kids get good grades, and living my life just like anyone else who does not know Jesus as their Savior and the freedom that He gives.
My hope is that I understand, right now, the huge freedom that I have to live a huge life for Him, and I hope that everyone reading this will join me.