Friday, March 26, 2010

the dilemma of freedom...

Sometimes I wonder whether human beings are really free or not. But, then, sometimes, I think that if we are free, freedom isn't that great of a thing. I mean, everyone loves freedom, right? Until we're faced with a difficult choice, and then most of us - at least in our heads - wish that someone else was around to make the choice for us. That way, if things don't work out, we have someone else to blame. :-) Besides, making difficult choices is a stressful business.

Some people seem to thrive in that environment, but I have a suspicion they aren't always as thrilled as they appear to be. I mean, look at pictures of any president, before and after. They always look much more tired while they're president, and then, a few years later, they always seem more mellow. I know, that's not an objective assessment, but I think anyone, even the most ambitious person, wishes at times they didn't have to make decisions.

Anyway, my point with all this: Jesus said essentially, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) And Paul echoes, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) So apparently Jesus has set us free, so that we might have freedom. This is merely a tautology, unless we understand what freedom actually IS.

So what is freedom? Certainly the typical response will be that we have been freed from sin and death, freed from God's righteous judgment. And that must be true in some sense if Christianity is true. But I think freedom has an even broader meaning. We are free from the need to worry about making choices. Jesus tells us not to worry, and as difficult as that is for me, I think he may have actually meant it!

This doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to make responsible decisions. We have to be accountable for our actions. But the freedom given to us in Christ is a freedom that essentially says, paraphrasing Luther's famous quote: Love God, and live as you see fit! This, I am starting to learn, means that we need not fear the dilemma of freedom. If we fail, God still loves us. If we succeed, we should give God all the glory anyway. We may not have a clue about what to do sometimes, but if we trust God, use whatever wisdom God has given us (and others - don't be afraid to ask for help!), and consider the cost... then we just need to DO something! Act!

This is a challenge sometimes for overly analytic types like myself. But thankfully, I can take comfort in the realization that Christ has set me free - free to live, free to fail, free to love, free to hope - and that freedom is not a "freedom of choice," it is a freedom beyond choice. It's the freedom that comes with knowing that no matter what choice you make, you have a solid foundation to which you can always return. So the dilemma doesn't have to be. I am trying to learn how to live this way. Actually, I think I'm being forced to... I guess I have no choice. ;-)

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