Friday, July 22, 2005

The Chimera of Personal Freedom

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
-Jesus Christ, as quoted in John 8:32 (NIV)

For he who was a
slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave.
-The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:22, NIV)

Every man longs for his own freedom, the freedom to do what he wants when he wants to. In fact however, there is nothing stopping us from doing so except the logical consequences of our behavior if what we want to do is break the law and hurt other people. Otherwise, God is not stopping us. We can do whatever we wish.

I suspect though that when we say that we want to do whatever we want whenever we want, what we really mean is and be content. The problem for us is that this desire to be unbound and liberated in both person and spirit is not consistent with our design; it would be as if a bicycle wanted to be a paddleboat. We are given free will to make choices, but it is not our design to be liberated from encumbrances and be "free" spirits if free means unaccountable and without responsibility. Simply put, we are not free in that way and never will be no matter how we might wish it. It is our design to serve God. If we choose not to serve God (through loving commitment to our personal mission), then we will simply choose to serve something else, most likely a self-serving (and therefore self-destructive) addiction such as comfort, sex, alcohol, drugs, television, recreation, avoidance or fear. We have to serve. It is our design to serve.

To be truly free, we must choose to serve God--who by the way has demonstrated through his commitment to our free will that he is no slavish taskmaster and has no aspirations to dominate and control our souls. He wants to see us conform to our design specifications and experience the joy and peace that comes from fulfilling what we were made to fulfill. In doing so, we become one with him who created us. We receive the ultimate reward for our conformity: "Well done, my good and faithful servant." We reside with the master and creator for all eternity.

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