I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. ~ Robert A. Heinlein
We like to define freedom as the ability to make our own choices without constaint, as reflected by the quote above. In fact, the chinese phrase for freedom is made up of 2 characters, first to mean ‘self’, second to mean ‘reason’ or ‘origin’. This is a freedom for us to do things, for us to pursue our dreams.
I would like to argue that this may not be the best definition of freedom that we truly desire, nor is it the one we enjoy in the North American culture today.
Consider traffic laws. We are not free to drive anywhere on the road as we please, we are not free to travel at any speed we’d like, and we are not free to ignore the traffic lights and stop signs and so on. These things constrains us, and makes us less ‘free’. However, such constraints on our freedom opens up possibilities for other kinds of freedom. With traffic laws in place, we are now free to travel to our destination (relatively) safely. And such is true for law in general. We are not free to cause bodily harm on others, but this offers the freedom to not be in danger every time you walk out of your house.
Or have you ever mused of wanting to be a child again, without the responsibilities of your current situation so that you may be more ‘free’? If freedom is such a desirable thing… why is it that we can all agree that the child is more ‘free’ to do w/e he wants?
Let us also consider God.
God is not free to sin, for He is altogether holy and He cannot bring Himself to sin.
But we can.
Does that mean we have more freedom than God since we can sin, and He cannot? This makes no sense!
We can all agree that freedom is good, and God actually also promises freedom (2 Cor 3:17, John 8:36, Psalm 118:5 and so on).
How can sinful men have more ‘good’ (in terms of freedom), than an infinitely good God?
I would like to offer a way to talk about freedom: Freedom TO, and Freedom FROM.
Freedom TO would be the freedom that we’ve been talking about earlier, the freedom to do as we pleases. BUT I feel this is not the correct definition of freedom.
Freedom FROM would be the kind of freedom that God possesses and offers to us. A freedom to be free from the boundage of sin (Gal 5:1, 13-14). This kind of freedom is the goodness of God.
As we can see earlier that some constraints, such as laws, may limit our ‘freedom TO’ but it also enables more of ‘freedom FROM’.
Yes, we are still free to pursue our heart’s desires, I’m not saying we should take away all the ‘freedom TO’, but I am saying it is time to think about freedom in a new way:
freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do and it accords with Christ. ~John Piper
Are you so in love with Christ that you will use all your freedom to be in accords with Him? Am I?
None are more hoplessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
So be free, and not just believing that you are.