Freedom….how would you define it?
My dictionary defines freedom as “the state or quality of being free…implies the absence of hindrance, restraint, confinement, repression, etc.”, and then goes on to say that the word “liberty” is “often interchangeable with freedom, strictly connotes past or potential restriction, repression, etc….”.
“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but licence.”JOHN MILTON, Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
In the past two years, due to my own negligence, I have had some of my freedoms restricted. I took many of them totally for granted and never imagined they would be taken away. I, irresponsibly, used my freedom as license. As a result…freedom has become very dear to me, however I now have a much deeper perspective…True freedom is internal…it is not conditional; it is not dependent upon the external. The loss of my external freedom does not then mandate the loss of my internal freedom.
The External Perspective “…“If my ability to do what I want is taken away I cannot, will not be free.”
What do you think of a king, president, political, social or religious leader who demands loyalty but offers little or nothing in return? We have, unfortunately, witnessed throughout human history, and are witnessing today, this type of mandate…follow or lose your freedom, your freedom to choose…or your life. From ISIS to The Affordable Care Act we are hearing this message.
For an historical perspective…see what the Founding Fathers of the United States of America stated about freedom & liberty on July 4, 1776, relating to British repression. They wrote:
“A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Brave men and women throughout the history of the world have stood and died to preserve their external freedoms. Freedoms, which should be valued and protected. But to stop there, given the human propensity for self-centeredness and a lust for power, leads to license…not true freedom.
The Internal Perspective…Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. The Apostle Paul as recorded in 1 Corinthians 9:19 (NIV)
Again…I reference The Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,…” Click here: All men are created equal… to read the Declaration, the list of grievances and the list of signers.
Roger Pilon, senior fellow and Director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies, states in the preface to the Cato Institutes’s 1998 published copy of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America,
“Appealing to all mankind, the Declaration’s seminal passage opens with perhaps the most important line in the document: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident.’ Grounded in reason, ‘self-evident’ truths invoke the long tradition of natural law, which holds that there is a ‘higher law’ of right and wrong from which to derive human law and against which to criticize that law at any time. It is not political will, then, but moral reasoning, accessible to all, that is the foundation of our political system. …liberty is its aim…We are all created equal, as defined by our natural rights: thus, no one has rights superior to those of anyone else. Moreover, we are born with those rights, we do not get them from government…”.
The obvious implication in this statement, and in the Declaration, is that there are “absolute moral truths” that govern mans very being, of which, no man-made law can supersede. Absolute-moral-truth can be defined as “that which is true for all people, all places, all times”. The Constitution identifies these truths as “unalienable Rights”. Rights which cannot be transferred, estranged or separated from “all men”…Internal-freedoms which are innate and immutable.
If the high ideals of the American Founding Fathers are eroded to the point that these absolute-moral, self-evident truths are ignored…or the United States government, having been instituted by men, and restricted to deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed, ignores this basic restriction to its power, “enslaves” me and thus removes most or all of my external freedoms… am I no longer “free”?
It was in the midst of losing my freedoms that I found the answer to that question. The difference between external-freedom and internal-freedom was made clear and evident, not by choice, but by experience. The “mask” was removed. I was forced to realize that prior to losing my external-freedom, internally I was not free. I had constructed a prison of deception and lack of transparency that locked me behind walls that were nearly, by human standards, impenetrable. And I knew Who had the keys to unlock that prison. I simply did not have the courage to reach out and take them. I used my external freedom to abuse…freedom. It is in that abuse that my lack of internal freedom, the freedom that can come only from God, was revealed.
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? Galatians 5:13-15 (Message Bible)
Freedom from Death…came to us in the form of a baby
Freedom from death came to us in the form of a baby. The Incarnation; God became man…one of us to free us from the bondage of sin and rebellion, which had enslaved us and taken away our ability to experience True Freedom, independent of the external and expressing itself through the internal revelation of God’s grace and mercy through His Spirit. He did this by taking our sin, our rebellion upon Himself, inviting us to follow Him not as a tyrant, but as a Servant-leader; offering us not little or nothing in return as would a human king, but willingly giving His life so that we may live in True Freedom…Freedom from Death.
The way of man and nature is death…the way of the Spirit of God is life.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Romans 8:18-22
Many of us, on December 25, both individually and corporately will be celebrating the Incarnation (the act of being made flesh). Jesus (God saves) Christ (The anointed or chosen one) was born of a virgin, lived, grew in wisdom, ate, laughed, cried, taught, prayed, bled, expressed sorrow and anger, and though tempted as a man…lived a sinless life, gave His life in our place as an atonement (satisfactory substitute) for our sin and rebellion and rose to eternal life…defeating death…providing us with reconciliation with our Creator God…and Freedom from Death.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit”( 1 Peter 3:18).
May you, not only on December 25, but each day celebrate Freedom from Death.