You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya
It seems to me that Americans in particular are very lazy when it comes to using the right word to describe the right concept. Take the word “love” for example. It is used in everything from “I love pie” to “For God so loved the world . . . ” Two completely different ideas there.
“Freedom” is falling into that same category. “‘Merica” and “Freedom” are beginning to be interchangeable and I’m beginning to think that someone renamed the Bald Eagle to Freedom Bird. Even beyond that, I hear people using that word as a justifiable reason to bypass personal responsibility and discipline. The word “freedom” has come to mean “without constraint or boundaries.”
When I read John 8:32 and Galatians 5:1, my understanding is that the freedom Christ is offering is a repeal of our prison sentence to sin. We have been bought out of slavery through the blood of Christ into a life of where we can grow.
With that freedom, however, also comes responsibility and discipline.
When Paul describes “Love” he gives us a framework for how “Love” does versus how it does not behave. It may look different and feel different in each individual instance and experience, but Paul defines the basic act of love by both what it is and what it is not. There is an in and out of love. There is freedom in Christ and slavery outside of Christ. In other words, there are boundaries to freedom.
It’s kind of like the Southwest Airlines slogan “You are now free to move about the country.” We live in an amazing age where we can go almost anywhere in the world on an airplane. But in order to get on that airplane you must buy a ticket, drive to the airport, go through security, get delayed, get delayed again, board the plane, put your phone on “Airplane Mode,” sit back , enjoy the flight, disembark, pick up your luggage, and then leave the airport to wherever you are headed. We are not Superman who can just fly anywhere without restrictions. There is a process to flying. There are things one must do in the freedom of being able to travel long distances in a day.
The wonderful thing about Christ is that His freedom comes with an easy yoke. Much easier than getting through TSA security. He has asked us to engage in humanity in a way that encourages peace. He has asked us to care for those who have a difficult time caring for themselves. He has asked us to listen to needs of others and if we can meet them to do so. He has asked us to encourage the weary. He has asked us to share the goodness of His freedom. He hasn’t asked us to change anything or anyone. Just to do. He will provide the change. That is where I find my freedom, in the realization that I am not responsible to change people but only to engage with them as Christ would have me, and do what He has placed before me.