Monday, October 27, 2008

Freedom, Jesus, Life and Love

Yesterday at Bible study we took on John 8:31-36:

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

33 They answered him, We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?

34 Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The key to the passage is understanding what freedom is. Many times the definition of freedom is reduced to "freedom from..." or the concept of Liberty. To be free is not to have the shackles of an outside force, whether that be government, church, or other power. Such an understanding underpins much of the libertarian thinking and it is not surprising that such thinking rejects government, church and ultimately God. It is also very problematic. As one member said yesterday, she wants to be free to do want she wants. Does she then become a slave to her wants and also what if her wants go against another desires. She is free only to the extent of her desires and others. In such a system of thinking, the other is only valid in so much as they align. Since most of our desires are fickle, our freedom becomes fickle. The next step becomes adding reason to the mix, and saying we should be free to follow our happiness tempered by reason and the other's happiness. In such a worldview, love cannot exist because the other is the limit of my freedom. Soon, resentment arises about the other, and a human wants to liberate himself. To limit freedom to only "freedom from..." is to create a prison of self and desire under the illusion of freedom. What it ignores is the word, "freedom" comes from the same etymology of friend and love. Freedom main meaning is "free to ..." and the to is love. To be love or to love frees us, and so powerfully that no government or outside force can take it way. With God being Love, the highest form of freedom is relationship with God. This is the truth that sets us free.

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