What is Freedom Anyway?

Guest Post by Stephen Pollock

Last Sunday, our campus Pastor Joel Delph really shook me up during his message about Jesus’ teaching on “the Law” with one question. 

“Did you know that freedom is a learned activity?”

He then went on to say, “Freedom is a learned lifestyle. To live free from bondage is something you have to learn to do.”

Huh? I always thought that once the prison door flung open, you could just run out to your loved ones, have a steak dinner, and the rest of your life…you know, be free. Then I thought of Brooks, the seasoned fella in The Shawshank Redemption. Brooks spent his entire adult life in prison and, when suddenly released, didn’t know what to do with himself. He was set free but didn’t know how to live free. Sound familiar? Watch it again if it’s been a while. Pay close attention to the language and symbolism, from when Brooks steps outside the prison gate to when his last letter is read about his so-called freedom.

Good ole Brooks got me thinking. What is freedom anyway? 

What do you think it is? 

  • Is it being so secure that you never have to worry again? 
  • Is it living a life of leisure
  • Is it simply living in a free country where you can believe, speak and worship as you please? 

The Bible has some things to say about all of these. 

About Security: Matthew 7:24 – “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes, it won’t collapse.”

About Leisure: Paradise was described in the first book of the Bible, and you know what was included? Work. Genesis 1:28 instructs us to “fill the earth and subdue it.” Verbs. Tim Keller sums it up nicely, “God left creation with deep untapped potential for cultivation that people were to unlock through their labor.”

About Freedom: 1 Corinthians 10:23 – “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.”

Surely living in a free country equals freedom, right? Maybe, but how free do you feel right now? My reality is that I’m not mature enough to live free. I wasn’t even sure I knew what freedom was, so I asked God to point it out to me, and here’s how He answered, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Easy enough, but notice the verse starts with “and,” inextricably linking it to what came before. What came first is, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.” To be a disciple is to learn. To be discipled by God is a good indication that He loves you (see Hebrews 12:6). Therefore, I think real freedom is living under the rule of Christ in His Kingdom, having the things we think we want be taken away, and not doing what we think we want, or need to do.

That seems pretty straightforward – so what’s stopping me? 

Since this is Shawn’s blog, I thought I’d honor him with a Star Wars reference. Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, relays a scene from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker steps into the darkness of the cave, where he knows something is not right, only to be confronted by his enemy Darth Vader. Lightsabers are drawn, the battle ensues, and Luke cuts off Vader’s masked head. Brene states, “Only, it isn’t Darth Vader’s face; it’s Luke’s face.”

To be sure, I am not my own enemy because the Bible makes it clear who the enemy is. But, that scene makes me wonder if I’m the one stopping myself from living in true freedom—no need to despair at that thought because I’m learning as I go.

What about you? Do you practice living in God’s freedom?

Published by Shawn McCarthy

While serving as the Weekend Experience Pastor at Seacoast Church, I felt God prompting me to share the moments when He would speak His truth into my life through scripture in a way that made sense to me, giving me tangible ways to learn, grow and lead. These promptings turned into weekly emails that I would send my small groups and volunteer teams. I found myself enjoying the process of digging deeper into God’s Word, being stretched by the writing process, and encouraging others in the faith. My lovely wife, Anna, challenged me to begin this blog, so these moments that I have come to call, my “Red-Letter Moments,” can find a home. My prayer is that you will find hope, comfort, and inspiration here, and above all, you will come to know that the God of the universe loves you and desires a personal relationship with you.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: