It sounds wonderful right? To know that there are no limitations, no restrictions in life and that everything is permitted? But how do we reach such a level of freedom? Does this kind of freedom exist? And how do we use this freedom? Is the freedom we long for really as freeing as we are imagining it to be?
The designer of freedom
Before we start answering these questions (or at least try to answer them), let’s look at the One who created freedom. Believe it or not, the Designer of the heavens and earth knows what the true meaning of freedom is. He does? Yep! Wait, what’s that? Did I just hear your thoughts come to a screeching halt? Are you talking about the God of the Bible? Your post is about freedom! Where does He fit in this story? Sit back, relax and let’s take a look at where it all began.
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve had everything they could ever want. God created a ‘place of pleasure’ for these two. You could say that they were living in a modern day villa, with anything and everything enjoyable and great. It just wasn’t enough. Adam and Eve ‘missed their mark’. That’s the meaning of sin. When people started to ‘miss their mark’, guidelines came along in the form of the Law of Moses. But even then God never forced anyone to abide by the rules. Adam missed his mark, and Jesus was born to show us once again the true meaning of freedom. Unfortunately for Adam and Eve, they never really experienced their full potential in life.
What about the tree of life?
God gave Adam and Eve the gift of free will. I believe that the purpose of the tree of life was to give both of them the freedom to choose. They had the freedom to choose to trust God and believe that He knew what would make them happy. They could have chosen to believe that God was only giving them the best of the best. That He knew the true meaning of freedom and was not withholding anything from them that would bring even more happiness and freedom. Adam and Eve were not made in the image of a robot, but in the image of God. They had everything they needed within and around them. Yet God choose to give them (and us) the gift of choice.
What about the Law of Moses I was just talking about?
Years ago I was invited to speak to a church youth group. The inspiration for my message came from 1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are legitimate [permissible–and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].” I started out by telling them that we are free to do whatever we want, even if it is lying, stealing, cheating or something worse. I could see by the look on their faces that they were thinking: ‘What kind of heretic is this!’ I asked them to show me where the Bible states something contrary to what I had said. Some of them shouted: ‘The Ten Commandments!’ I asked them to open up their bibles and read it to me. They started reading: “I am the LORD thy God, who has brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shall have no other gods before Me. Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” And so on, and so on. You can read all ten of them in Exodus 20: 2-17.
I told them that if God wanted to restrict us, He would have used words like ‘cannot’ or ‘may not’ instead of ‘shall not’. But He didn’t. In the original Hebrew text the verb ‘shall’ is also being used. In the Jewish tradition, they don’t talk about ‘commandments’ but ‘words’. In Hebrew “aseret ha-dibrot” means “the ten words”.
At this point, everyone in the audience was confused. So I gave them this example. I told them that I love my wife very dearly. Yet, I am an adult and therefore independent and free. That gives me the right to do as I please. My wife can’t hold me back, because she’s not my mother. If I choose to come home at three in the morning, I can. But…. I shall not do this, because I love her too much.
What it really means to be free
When you come into a loving relationship with God, you won’t do the things that hurt Him. If God is precious to you, you will do the things that are pleasing to Him. This is Agape love and this is how God intended for us to live. Jesus came to show us what it meant to act out of love. He was teaching us that our actions towards each other where supposed to flow out of unselfish love for each other. True freedom starts with love. And true happiness lies in loving one another. The question remains: ‘Can we do anything and everything we want?’
Yes we can
The questions that should linger in our minds before every action are: “Are my motives for doing this pure? Is this going to bring pain and suffering in the lives of other people? Does this spread happiness and joy? Am I showing love towards others when I do this? Are my actions positively changing the lives of others around me? Do my actions inspire people to start to walk in love?” It takes time to shift our focus from working only on and for our own freedom, to working on the freedom of all mankind through love. We can start where we are. People are longing for love. Will you be the one to start spreading some of it?
I started out by saying that you can do anything and everything you want. After reading through this post:
- How did your view of freedom change?
- Do you think that true freedom begins with loving mankind? Why do you think that it does or does not?
- How can you start showing and sowing some love where you are?
Why not try to spread some love this week? After trying this, we would love to hear (read) from you how this changed your perspective on freedom. Has this form of freedom brought you more happiness?