Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Set Free

Freedom is a much-misunderstood concept, which is likely why so few of us feel we really have it. To many, freedom is the right to get what we want and do as we please. Though we rarely admit it, we think this sort of freedom should be exclusive to us, since the alternatives--either everyone doing exactly as he or she pleases or our having to constantly think about how our actions affect others' freedom--are less than compatible with the perennially pleasant and comfortable lives we envision as indicating we are truly free.

Others would be satisfied to be free from one particular responsibility: "I'm sorry I ever married her." "I'd take any job that gets me away from my kids for a few hours a day." "Why did I sign that contract?" "I'm worn out from taking care of my dad; it seems like he's going to drag out his last years forever."

Then there are those of us who would rather not be selfish but have issues we can hardly be blamed for desiring freedom from. Many are desperate to be free of sickness, family abuse, or poverty. Many are depressed or emotionally disturbed, living in feelings of perennial misery they can't really explain but would give anything to be free of. Most of us have had the experience of desiring freedom from guilt: guilt over resenting our legitimate responsibilities; guilt over having any personal desires of our own; guilt over things now past but still regretted.

And of course, most of us suffer to some degree from compulsions we can't seem to get free of. No matter how often we vow to quit drinking, to control our tempers, to cancel the pity parties once and for all, the desire always comes back, driving us, like a slavemaster driving harvesters to work with a whip, to the action we simultaneously despise and love.

Therein lurks the true reason behind all lack of freedom: there's something out of alignment within us, something that takes pleasure in what our consciences deplore, something that keeps us convinced--in the face of common sense and experience--that this time it'll work, this time the satisfaction will last, this time our running from responsibility will bring us to true freedom. Christian theology calls this misalignment original sin. It has its roots in the original sin--the day Adam and Eve chose freedom to do as they wanted and thus poisoned their freedom to do as God wanted, the only real freedom there is because it comes from the only One wise enough to know what brings true happiness.

This is the sort of freedom Jesus promised when He said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.... everyone who sins is a slave to sin.... [But] if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:31-32, 34, 36). Many Christians--often through no fault of their own--never find freedom in this life from persecution, from physical limitations, even from strong emotional tendencies toward the most persistent of their sins. But the freedom Jesus refers to here encompasses even more than the total relief we will find from all this in God's final Kingdom; it means the first taste of freedom now, freedom to begin to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, freedom to see doing the right thing become gradually more natural, freedom to experience the first tastes of the pure joy that will someday be full reality.

Jesus bought our freedom at a cost. Will you give up your "what I want" ideas of freedom to Him and allow Him to show you a greater freedom than you can imagine?

Set free, set free,
Free from death’s sentence pronounced on me!
Christ paid that price so that I could be
Set free, set free!

Set free, set free,
Free from the sin that had driven me!
Christ gave His life so that I could be
Set free, set free!

Set free, set free,
Free from the guilt that weighed down on me!
Christ was raised up so that I could be
Set free, set free!

Set free, set free,
Free from the trials of life I’ll be!
Christ, my great Lord, soon will call for me:
Set free, set free!


allanymarisela said...

Freedom from...Freedom to
Freedom for me is both freedom from and freedom to. The first freedom I enjoy is freedom from the bondage of self. What a relief! Then I begin to experience freedom from fear--fear of people, of economic insecurity, of commitment, of failure, of rejection. Then I begin to enjoy freedom to: Freedom to choose a sense of joy for today, freedom to be myself, freedom to express my opinions, to experience peace of mind, to love and be loved, and freedom to grow spiritually. But how can I achieve these freedoms?
My own conscience clearly tells me that instantly on following up on a decision to do so I will begin to know a new freedom. Not the old freedom of doing as I pleased without regard to others, but a new freedom that allows fulfillment of the promises in my life. What a joy to be free.
In Jesus' pure and perfect love

Katherine Swarts said...

Wonderful comments. Very insightful!

scw1217 said...

I just found your blog through Pix-N-Pens. You are such a gifted writer. I liked this post because, having hit rock bottom before, I only found true freedom when I give up all the "me" I was hanging on to. God bless!

Katherine Swarts said...

Thanks, Suzanne. Did you see Tuesday's Pix-n-Pens (http://pixnpens.blogspot.com/2010/02/submissions-sought-for-new-ministry.html) on my new poetry book project?