False Freedoms And Freedom Indeed
You will hear words like “liberty” and “freedom” bandied about. But these words more times than not are sorely misunderstood in this age. They imply something that is impossible, which is that man can be free. But man is not free. Life itself binds us. So we are left to choose one set of freedoms over others, all of them coming with their own set of snares and constraints.
Kris Kristofferson penned the now famous words, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” some years ago, and yes, the freedom he was referring to is a kind of freedom. Having nothing to lose, nothing to claim as your own, nobody to love, or to love you, or no material possessions that can be used as leverage to control you does provide for a sort of freedom. A homeless panhandler, for example, might have that kind of freedom. What can anyone do to him? But he’s not free to go home, or to know the joy of providing for a family, just to name a couple of the things he’s not free to do.
Marxism offers a concept of freedom for others. This is the freedom that comes with being a ward of someone or something much more powerful than one’s self. So big all-encompassing governments are empowered and charged with making sure that all have food, clothes and shelter, and that no one has more material wealth than anyone else. In short they are charged with making everything fair. But in order to achieve such a world heavy handed laws must be enacted and enforced with an iron fist. Man is then freed from the necessity of effort. He need not apply himself to anything, for doing so will reap him nothing more or less in return. For many this is a coveted freedom. Those who long for this freedom are easily recognized because they worship an ideological concept: equality. But with all the words spoken, and the millions murdered in order to achieve such “freedom”, no equality has ever been achieved, only misery, poverty and captivity.
For some hedonism is liberty. Our bodies want to sleep, be comfortable, and most of all to experience pleasure. But to run after these things without constraint is self destructive. Our bodies, or as the Bible puts it, our flesh, is by its nature self destructive. It can never be satisfied. It can never get enough of what it craves constantly. At some point our bodies want to sedate themselves with drugs and alcohol, to take away the pain brought on by self destruction, which causes even more self destruction. It’s a downward spiral. Yes, there is a freedom in casting off all restraint, but in the end it leads to death.
For others still, lots of money is freedom. They cast off the restraint of slothfulness that the body attempts to impose, and they work really hard in hopes of great reward. They are then free to have nice things. But they are not free to be satisfied with those nice things, or to stay home from work.
There are so many freedoms that we can go chasing after. But in the end there is no freedom. In the end we will live out what Solomon called, “vanity of vanities”.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun? ” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 )
All freedoms have merit. Who doesn’t want to be comfortable? Who desires to toil day and night only to be exploited by the lords of the market place? Who wants to be poor? But all of these “freedoms” involve submission to masters, none of which are righteous. But there is a righteous master to whom we can submit. His name is Jesus. And He is a ruler, make no mistake about that.
The Bible tells us that this ruler came to set the captives free. This ruler tells us that in Him there is freedom to be found. And when we find that freedom, we will be free indeed. So the question is, what is this freedom that Jesus offers? To answer, why don’t we first take the scriptures on their face value. They too tell us that we are not “free”.
I’ll show you two examples.
In the first one Jesus asks us to throw off the heavy yoke. We must understand that that word, “yoke” is a word that points to a master to whom our will must bend.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus is pointing to a freedom here, but not freedom in the sense that man normally thinks of it. He is not saying that we are able to cast off everything that constrains, for that would be impossible in this fallen world. He offers us an exchange. Beware therefore of anyone who ever implies total freedom, for such does not exist, and an awful snare awaits those who believe such things.
The second passage points to another kind of master, the shepheard:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:21)
Jesus is our shepherd, which means He is our authority. We are free to graze in His pastor, but we are not free to graze wherever our flesh demands. But Jesus does speak of freedom, and even a “freedom indeed”. So what is that freedom? If Jesus came to “set the captives free”, then what are we captive to? The answer is “sin”.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn 8:35-36)
Jesus here is in a discourse on the subject of slavery. Those who opposed him were claiming to be free. They rejected Jesus’ assertion that they were in fact slaves. But the slavery of which Jesus spoke was worse than simply being a slave to an earthly master. One might hope to eventually break such bonds as those. But no man can break the bonds of sin. He is a slave to it for life except that he surrender to the good master, his very creator, who alone has the keys to unlock those chains.
Dear children, I would that you not go chasing after the things of this world which make empty promises, but that you would chase after your Heavenly Father. It is my desire for you that you seek the face of God, and that eternity would ever be in your sights. I pray that you would put Jesus’ yoke on you, and that you would answer to His commands so that you might experience joy in this life that cannot be taken away or stolen by circumstances. I pray that you would fix your eyes, not on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is seen with your eyes is all temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal; they will not pass away!
In our hearts, we want freedom. And I pray for you dear children that you would find the kind of freedom that will make you free indeed, that we may enjoy it forever. Amen.