January 24: What Freedom Isn’t (part 1)

Yesterday we talked about the law of liberty and the important truth that without freedom there cannot be love. But before we move on in our journey together, I want us to stop and make sure that we understand what we are talking about when we talk about freedom, especially freedom in Christ.

The first thing we are NOT talking about is the modern cultural self identity narrative of the “freedom of the self.” Second, we are not talking about “American freedom.” Today let’s consider the first one first–

In this generation freedom has replaced right and wrong as the ethos of our culture. What makes your life significant is not whether you are doing good, but whether you are living in freedom. But this freedom that the world is selling is not the freedom of the garden or of the gospel. It is a freedom that says “I should be able to do whatever I want to do.”

Freedom is the new narrative of our time. This all encompassing narrative of freedom encourages us to privatize our lives and find fulfillment through personal choice. Here are some of the characteristics of this brand of freedom:

  • We are free to create our own identity- but this identity actually enslaves us.
  • We resist commitment and real relationships or authenticity for fear of losing freedom.
  • The freedom to choose to serve others or to deny the self is rejected.
  • We have become self sufficient, privatized, and “miniaturized”- we only relate to other people who are just like us.

Galatians 5:13. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

The freedom that God offers to us in Christ is quite different:

  • Our freedom doesn’t come from self identification, but rather is imputed upon us by God himself.
  • True freedom is found in the giving of the self and in self control, empowered by forgiveness and grace.
  • Reconciliation replaces individual freedom. We give up our “freedom” to bring reconciliation to the world through Christ and in so doing find true freedom.

Paradoxically true freedom comes when we are willing to freely give up our freedom. This is what Christ himself did for us in his living and in his dying. This is the freedom and the life (and love) that he is offering for us today.

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