What do you think of when you think of freedom? Maybe, like most people, you probably think of things such as freedom from slavery, freedom from oppression, freedom from social injustice, and on and on that list seems to go. There's nothing wrong with setting captive individuals free, but lately I've been seeing the cry for freedom in American society take on other tones. In fact, it seems a lot of the talk of freedom has to do with breaking away from anyone or anything someone may consider personally binding in any way. It's as if there are people out there who want to be free from anyone telling them what to do in any way, shape, form, or fashion.
The problem with that desire is that the real world does not, and will not ever work that way.
Though it would seem obvious to say it, there appear to be those that do not understand that true freedom is not without its limits. The result of a society of people completely free to do whatever they pleased would be chaos, death, and destruction. The result of a person who takes such complete freedom to do whatever they want to do is always pain. Here we find a truth: in the pursuit of freedom from physical bondage, there is another, more alluring and evil enslavement waiting far on the other side.
Where freedom is completely taken away, you have one side of slavery and bondage. This is the lack of freedom we are more used to because it is felt, it is visible, and the suffering and pain it causes is immediate and obvious on its face. However, there is another, more sinister type of slavery that grips the person who would claim complete and total freedom.
I came across a blog article HERE that more deeply explores these two issues using the movie The Hunger Games as an example of the two views of slavery. It is worth taking the time to read and really understand. In the end the conclusion is the same. A person or a people completely free from everything are eventually enslaved to unconstrained desire; condemned to the foolishness and folly of empty lives of empty pursuits that never satisfy or fulfill, to put it another way. Whether chained to a wall, or chained to an empty life, both are lives of enslavement.
Do we not see this in the lives of Hollywood celebrities who seemingly have everything you or I could ever want? I can think of several celebrities in the news recently who have garnered vast amounts of wealth at very young ages, able to buy the freedom we all seem to think we want, only to discover for themselves an empty and hollow world of isolation and loneliness that could never be forged from metal bars and chains. So they turn to escape even this world in drugs and alcohol, and other pursuits, only to come crashing back to the reality of this existence, and their place in it. Having the world of freedom they so thought they desired, they learn only too late that they are now held tightly captive by form of bondage unseen.
As created beings, we are all fallen from God's grace, broken and in need of God's healing. The problem is that we resist that healing because to us, it looks too much like the opposite of freedom. It looks like more rules and restrictions than real freedom. Consider then the husband who, in pursuit of full freedom goes out and cheats on his marriage, or the willful child who resists all attempts to compel good behavior. The end of these paths are only pain.
Mark McMinn writes, "The consequences of unbounded independence are woundedness, brokenness, and pain."
The quest for the freedom that brings true happiness in life then is not the quest for complete freedom, but rather a quest to be the person God created you to be, in His will, under His rule, and under His authority. Real freedom is not marked by a complete lack of rules or laws, but rather by a submission to authority, a restraint in both word and deed, and a world that is ordered by purpose.