When this word comes to mind I think of running – almost flying – through wide, open spaces of green, skirts twirling, laughing voices ringing through the crisp air. I think of Mel Gibson’s heroic scene in Braveheart, and what a riveting thing it is to see a man fight wildly, passionately…
Freedom is always fought for. It can be a battle to the finish line to reclaim what’s been taken from us. Abuse of power scars us, and limits our free will either physically or emotionally. Such cruelty is often dished out by people who’ve been ensnared and restricted themselves.
The search for freedom can seem futile, impossible. And when we remain victimised by life, in terms of our outlook, we feel like we’re just groping around in the darkness. Hunched over and utterly lost, in our very own jail cell of unforgiveness and bitterness.
Some claim that Christianity takes one’s free will away. That Jesus Christ’s followers are just blindly following a god who dishes out rules like some power-hungry manipulator. Critics say the fact we follow a god at all is delusional, pathetic, disempowering. Others think God works rather like a genie… He’s there when we need him, blamed when things go wrong – but ultimately a thief when it comes to freedom of choice.
It’s a pretty sad existence if we feel that no-one is trustworthy. That everyone – including God – is ultimately interested in taking from us, throwing us and our unique identities out the window like yesterday’s garbage.
I certainly wouldn’t believe in a god who limited freedom – or didn’t care passionately about who I was in the scheme of things.
But let’s go back to the definition of freedom.
Allowing my kids to run ‘free’ on a busy road is irresponsible at best. My love for them dictates clear, consistent boundaries.
I struggled with the concept of boundaries for many years, believing love meant letting others have free rein to do with me as they pleased. I have slowly learnt that love – of yourself and others – instructs clear limits. You protect what you value. But if you don’t see yourself or others as valuable, for whatever reason, you tend to allow a slackening of the rules, and abuse often occurs.
The Bible is full of guidance and inspired truths from God, handed to us as His ultimate ‘word’ on life and faith. But rather than serving as a list of rules for rules’ sake, these words of wisdom and warning come from a heart of love, compassion and protection. God wants us to follow His ways so we might enjoy lives that reflect Him – His character. This is so that when others see us, they might crave to know Him better. He’s in the business of drawing people back to himself… People such as me who keep forgetting that freedom comes when we live under the guidance – not the abuse – of one who knows us better than we know ourselves. The one who’s absolutely perfect, holy, and the Creator of this incredible universe we live in.
When we follow him, and seek to please Him, we don’t give up our ‘freedom’ at all. Opening the door to new faith is truly like stepping into an open field of joy and dancing, celebration and wonder. Yes, we will probably live differently to before. But because we truly want to. We discover unconditional love for the first time. And we are ‘freely bound’ to Him who just wants to be alongside us, loving us, offering us dignity as His children, and filling our lives with eternal purpose. We discover that ‘living as we pleased’ wasn’t living at all. But living as He pleases will truly set our hearts on fire…
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.“
(2 Corinthians 3:17)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
(John 10:10 ESV)