What’s the Purpose of Freedom?
“Land of the free and home of the brave.” We sing it as part of our national anthem. We’re free! But what does that actually mean? Just how free are we?
We have freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly. We’re free to bear arms. And we’re free to exercise our rights to due process, have legal representation, and have a jury trial. But all these freedoms come with some restrictions.
We’re not free to drive 90 miles an hour in a 50-mph zone . . . although some people live as if they were.
We’re not free to slander other people or physically attack others . . . regardless of how we feel about them.
In short, our freedom as citizens of the United States does not mean we’re free to do whatever we want whenever we want it.
So what’s the purpose of freedom if it’s not completely free?
What if we thought of freedom the way Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, once described it: “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
Peter Marshall was paraphrasing Galatians 5:13 which says, “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” (ESV).
A noble aspiration, but often easier said than done. Doing what is right can be restrictive. It often requires us to put aside our own desires to apply a higher standard—one that may feel anywhere from inconvenient to downright painful.
Part of the problem is that apart from a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we’re slaves to our sin nature. A nature we cannot control or “kill” by our own efforts. There’s only one way to find freedom from ourselves. It’s found in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (ESV).
Christians are set free from sin and to Christ. No longer prisoners of a sin nature that controls our thoughts, words, and deeds, we’re now free to follow and obey the One who freed us. Free to worship the One whose death purchased our freedom. The apostle Paul said it this way, “You who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:17 ESV).
Independence Day is worthy of celebrating in the life of our nation. But my personal independence day is the day Christ set me free from sin. And the purpose of freedom in my life is not to do what I want when I want it. The purpose of freedom in my life is that I can now live for Him. That’s the best kind of freedom!
What is the purpose of freedom in your life?
Do you have a personal independence day?
If not, now’s as good a time as any to receive the gift of the best kind of freedom!