This is a word used often by many Americans and yet, in all likelihood, truly understood by relatively few. The tendency of society at large is to define freedom as the ability to do or say whatever we desire – to have no restrictions on what we want. We cling to our legal rights – our “freedom” – with tenacity but fail to comprehend, or even acknowledge, the bondage that entangles every aspect of our being. We are a people consumed with self-gratification – blind to the decay that is rotting us from the inside out. (Click to tweet)
“Freedom from addiction is not freedom from drugs and alcohol; it is not freedom from pornography; and it is not freedom from smoking, television, or the love of money. Freedom from addiction is being out from under the control of this world and under the control of Jesus. Freedom is control. It is not what controls you that separates freedom from bondage, it is who controls you that separates freedom from bondage.” ¹
Most Christians can easily recognize many socially acceptable behaviors as actually harmful, dangerous, and out of line with God’s desires; all too often, however, we fail to comprehend God’s way of dealing with the evil that resides in every one of us. We tend to prescribe counseling; scripture reading, studying, memorizing; prayer; re-dedication to God; consistent church attendance; or any other kind of “spiritual” activity. These, though not wrong, are not the solution. We can only experience freedom in one context – Jesus himself.
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?… For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” -Romans 6.16,19b
This passage is essentially saying that though we are all slaves, we can choose who we will obey as our master. Rather than continuing to heed the harmful and perverted desires of our heart – no matter the pleasure and happiness they bring for the moment, we must learn to listen to and obey God’s desires. Only by doing so will we live in the right way and gain a uniqueness marked by God’s own qualities of love, peace, and faithfulness.
We cannot escape the reality that we are designed for dependence – to be under the control of something or someone. Though we may scream out our independence to the heavens, in the end we must realize that we are not self-sufficient beings. (Click to tweet) Jesus himself lived in dependence upon the Father and we are called to likewise live in dependence upon Christ himself.
We must also understand that we are free from the need: of validation from others; to feel guilt and shame from past failures confessed, repented of, and forgiven; or to believe we must “measure up” to the requirements of a strict and easily-angered god. Finally, freedom is not the final goal; rather, freedom allows us the room to care for others rather than solely focusing on our own comfort and happiness.
“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
What does freedom mean to you?
¹ Nevertheless I Live: Living Freely in a Bound World, Steven Curington, pg.30 (emphasis original)