Thoughts on Freedom

Freedom is a lot like peace in that it's more than just the absence of constraint. It's living freely even in the midst of constraint. It's being free from the need to dominate and to coerce. It's being free to be who we were created to be even in the face of death--it's freedom from the power of death which rules the nations of the world. Freedom is displayed by the martyrs, who were and are by no means free from oppression and violence but are nevertheless free to live the life of freedom even when violence and oppression comes knocking on the door. Paul wrote of such freedom even while living in the midst of an "evil age" when Rome offered not freedom but oppression. Paul wrote, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." And perhaps you can read it like this, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" So that we might "Stand firm" in the midst of Roman slavery so as not to "be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5:1). Freedom happens within struggle just as hope does. And in Christ's kingdom of solidarity we are struggling as long as there are still those who struggle.

Freedom is also not freedom apart from mission. True freedom is the freedom to see something accomplished, not just to live in isolation and to be unbothered by outsiders. True freedom in any Christian sense of the word includes the redemption of bodies and souls. We cannot call our system free if through it we are not able to see basic needs met and holistic care for all. I am not free if I am not free to love and I am far too used to this restriction. I see, for example, families of "illegal immigrants" desperate for education and the basic things of life and I am forbidden to love them and to welcome them and thus by this system I am not free. Therefore, because freedom is mission, any system which denies freedom to others and to outsiders is not free. Therefore the only true freedom is in Christ's kingdom--the only kingdom in which there are no "outsiders" or "others"--where all are welcomed and all needs are met through Christ's blood. In Christ's kingdom I am not only free to love, not only allowed to welcome, but I am also commanded to do so. The command to love is the expression of true freedom.

Freedom is free... for in Christ we can be free even in tyranny. We can be free to struggle even in the face of death for death cannot hold us any longer. We are free to love and commanded to love even when the nations say "no." We are free to be who we were created to be even if the world operates in opposition to creation. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17) and the spirit is not something we can take by force. God's Spirit and God's freedom can only come to us as a gift, a free gift and not a possession.