For Americans, it’s a time for us to celebrate freedom. A new administration and a new president is about to take office. We are not under the thumb of a dictator or a despot. We are free! One of my favorite Christian authors is John R. W. Stott. He pointed out, “One of the best ways of sharing the gospel with modern men and women is to present it in terms of freedom.”
“Freedom” is a great Christian word (Luke 4:18, 19; John 8:36; Galatians 5:1). It is an extremely appealing topic, but freedom is also much misunderstood. I once read a quote from a Marxist, “When we get freedom, you’ll do what you’re told!”
What does it mean to be free? True freedom has limitations. If two people jump out of an airplane and only one of them has a parachute, which one do you think will enjoy the experience of sky-diving more?
As Christians, we are freed from guilt, freed from sin, and freed from fear. But in addition to being freed from, we are also freed to. Again Stott points out, “True freedom is freedom to be ourselves, as God made us and meant us to be.” That’s an important limitation!
Think about it. God is not free. He cannot be tempted or lie or tolerate evil. His freedom is freedom to be himself! What is true for the Creator is true for us. I think about taking our granddaughters to the beach. Rachel loves chasing the little fish swimming in the shallows along the shore. Now it’s an important truth that fish were created for the water. We learned that they are not very happy on the shore or in your pocket. Fish were created for the water, and that’s where they are happiest.
People were created for love. Robert Southwell wrote, “Not when I breathe, but when I love, I live.” True love is self-giving. True freedom is freedom from my silly little self in order to live for God and others (See Mark 8:35). As the fish are created for the sea, so we were created to love. The Apostle John wrote, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another…. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:11, 16, 18).