Monday, June 07, 2010

The Gift of Freedom

When we were children we always thought it would be great to have more freedom.  We always looked forward to the life we would be able to the life we would be able to enjoy: to drive, to spend our money on what we want, to live without our parents’ advice.  Now that we are grown, most of us see that that type of freedom was nothing but an illusion.  There are always rules or responsibilities in our lives that makes it impossible to live a life that is lived totally for ourselves.

Imagine if we were able to live a life of “absolute” freedom.  Wouldn’t that be a world of chaos? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be a world of dictatorships since the people who were stronger would be able to impose their will on those who are weaker?

I would suggest that when we use our “freedom” to please our selfish desires we will soon find ourselves in bondage.  We will be in bondage to drugs, to sex, to status, to money, or to power.  Choices we made freely often lead us into bondage and that is part of the reason sin is so evil.  Sin promises us a life of ultimate freedom, but it lies and instead it leads us into a life of complete bondage.

Jesus came to deliver us from the bondage of sin in order to bring to the place where our free choices are always the right choice.  In Uprising Erwin McManus wrote, “Your liberation will require you to see beyond that illusion of freedom—free acts that lead to bondage.  Our freedom must never be about us and us alone.  Freedom is the gift of serving others out of love” (p. 12).

Freedom is a wonderful gift from God, but like many of God’s gifts it is also dangerous.  You see there is always the danger that we will use the gift incorrectly, but the fact that it is dangerous doesn’t keep it from being good.  For us to use freedom to its fullest potential requires that we understand why God has given us the gift of freedom.  The apostle Paul wrote; For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13; ESV).

God did not give us freedom so we could seek to satisfy our fleshly desires, those desires that are focused in our bodies and in this world.  That way leads to heartache and bondage.  If you continue to read in Galatians 5 you will read about the “works of the flesh,” that is the type of life that is developed when we believe of freedom is the means to please ourselves.

Paul makes it clear that our freedom is to be used in love and service.  You see, we could demand our rights and refuse to help people, but that way takes us away from God.  In Jesus we discover that God’s way is not the way of demanding our rights, but the way of laying those rights aside in order to serve people.  If we are to become more like Jesus we need to acknowledge that we do have the right to do what we want to do, but we also have the right to put others ahead of ourselves and serve those who need help.

This world would be changed overnight if we, people who follow Jesus, would stop demanding the people recognize our rights and start serving people out of love.  I think Jesus died for more than to give us the freedom to watch rated R movies, drink alcohol, smoke cigars, and dance.  In fact, He died so we wouldn't be enslaved to such things, so we could be free to love and serve.

There is no greater force for good in this world than God’s people freely choosing to serve, to help, and to love people.  God has given us a great gift in freedom, and it is a gift that we should cherish.  We cherish it by using it properly.  How are you using your freedom?

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