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Are you really free?

June 7, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Discipleship

“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.” (Galatians 5:1)

Here in the United States, we pride ourselves on our freedom. We believe that our country stands as a beacon of freedom to this world, as evidenced by the Preamble to our Declaration of Independence, which testifies to our belief that we have all been given unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But just what is freedom, really?

If you asked the average American to define freedom, they might say that freedom is the absence of restrictions. To be truly free is to have the right to live however you please, to choose for yourself the life you wish to live, without anyone else telling you what you can and can not do. It means to be free to pursue the kind of career you wish to have, to love the person you wish to love, to live where you wish to live, and to spend your free time doing whatever makes you happy. That is true freedom. And consequently, if anyone tries to tell you that it is wrong or bad for you to do something that you want to do, then they are violating your right to freedom.

But if you stop to think about it, there is something off about that definition of freedom. Think about nature: what does it mean for a fish to be truly free? If a fish decides to live on the land instead of in the water, you could argue that has been freed from its restrictions. However, the fish would soon die! Or what about a bird deciding that it no longer wanted to live in the air, but under water? Once again, that “freedom” would soon lead to its death. Or think about manufacturing. Many of you own a car. What if you decided you no longer wanted to live under the restrictions of having to change the car’s oil every 3000 miles, or to spend the money to maintain its many parts? Such “freedom” would soon lead to the car breaking down and becoming worthless.

What is my point? True freedom is not the absence of restrictions. True freedom comes from living as you were created to live, operating according to your design. It means submitting to the right restrictions, the ones that will allow you to live to your highest potential. When a bird, fish, or a car submits to the right restrictions, they experience a long and purposeful life. Or, to use another analogy, think of music. If I try to play piano, freed from the restrictions of music theory, I am free to bang on any keys I want, however I please. But in so doing, I will make terrible music. When I submit to the restrictions placed on me by the laws of music, however, I find the freedom to create beautiful music.

True freedom for you, therefore, is not just doing whatever you want, however you want, without anyone telling you what you can and can not do. True freedom is living according to your design, submitting to the way you were designed to operate. If there truly is a Creator, then to be truly free is to live according to the will of that Creator. As we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as we learn and obey the commands of God, we find true freedom: not the absence of restrictions that eventually leads to death, but the freedom of living to our highest potential, as the person we were created to be.

This Pulse article was influenced by chapter one of Tim Keller’s book Every Good Endeavor.

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