Friday, July 6, 2012

What is Freedom?

This past week, Michael and I were talking about freedom. He was saying that a trend in our culture is to think that freedom means uncommitted; unencumbered; totally independent. He shared from his own story how he used to think that "romantic" freedom meant being completely free of commitment to anyone. He shared that he was surprised to find that marriage-- a relationship of total and unending commitment-- led him to a greater experience of "freedom" than he ever imagined. 

As he shared, I immediately thought of our own country's story and the holiday we just celebrated. It's easy for me to think that "Independence Day" is about the breaking of a commitment (to England) and the celebration of the newfound freedom it entailed.  And in a sense, it is! The colonies ended a relationship with England and thus became "free" from its foreign power.  But their intent in breaking out of one commitment was never to remain uncommitted.  Rather, the first Americans rejoiced that the relationship they experienced as oppressive was removed so that they could form a government they experienced as just!  

The 4th of July is a holiday that celebrates freedom-- not freedom from commitment, but freedom from oppression!  After fighting tirelessly for freedom from a foreign power, the first Americans didn't rejoice at their newfound lack of commitment to anything. Instead, the men and women of our nation gloried in their freedom to commit to each other; to form a government that would honor and care for its citizens. They bonded together, worked together, committed to each other-- to form a new family of people that would protect, serve, and work for the good of each other. 

The Christian story is also about freedom; freedom from (a foreign power)  securing freedom to (commitment to right relationship). When Jesus inaugurated his ministry on earth, these were his words. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

       to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
As persons created for relationship with God, it is ultimately not a country-- or a dictator, warlord, or corrupt government-- that oppresses us. Sin is what enslaves us, and is in fact what makes leaders and governments corrupt in the first place! Sin is ultimately what we need freedom-- deliverance-- from. On the Cross, Jesus sacrificed Himself in order to attain that freedom.  He waged war against sin itself, and rose victorious over it.  Freedom from sin therefore doesn't leave us uncommitted, but makes it possible for us to bond to God.

The Christian life is about freedom-- not from commitment, but from oppression.  Like the first Americans who rejoiced at the freedom to commit to each other, and like a man or woman who finds total love and acceptance in the faithful commitment of a spouse, we are invited into a life of intimate relationship with God. It is a life of commitment-- made possible by the work of Jesus Christ who won freedom from the oppression of sin-- for all who come to Him.  

That is worth celebrating! 


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