Freedom. It’s a very popular concept in America. It gets tossed around a lot. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. And of course, everyone’s favourite for pursuing their own agenda: “It’s a free country.”
It’s something we love to talk about as if we invented the concept, and yet other than a nationwide picnic and fireworks display on July 4th, there’s not a huge sense of gratitude or celebration about it. In fact, most of the talk around freedom tends to be when we feel it is threatened (which is often), and the lengths we’ll go to to protect it.
Yes, we love to talk about it as one of the grandest, most basic rights of being an American. And yet, we live our lives worrying about it being taken away.
With each year that passes, I realise more and more how much there is in life to fear. To be anxious over. To be depressed and defeated by. Financial hardship, sickness and even death have been particularly prevalent in the past year amongst my friends and family. Unfortunately, these are pretty common themes. And in general there tends to be a common reaction: “Isn’t if awful? Isn’t this life terrible? Ah well, not much we can do to escape it, that’s life.” That dreary acceptance that life is pretty futile because none of us can escape these situations.
Well, here’s the thing. Yes, these are all terrible situations. Yes, there is no guaranteed way to avoid them. But Christ has still given me a way to conquer – he has given me freedom from despair. Freedom from depression. Freedom from a bleak acceptance that life just sucks. When I see others caught in that web thinking there is no other way than defeat, that any other attitude is naïve and foolish, I realise that I have been broken free from bonds that are otherwise invisible and inescapable.
The freedom of Christ is not circumstantial – it is not dependent on what happens to us. It can’t be stolen away from us because it is within us. His freedom is not a life without hardship. It comes in the form of a new perspective:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Another way I think about it is this: remember those film strips? The negatives before you developed a picture? That’s how I used to see the world. Lots of black splodges with bits of tan/white detail. Uninspiring at best. But now, I get to see in full, glorious colour. And when I finally get to meet God face to face, well that will be 3D/4D/5D (whatever we’re up to now) with blasting surround sound and sensation.
I was blind, now I see. I was enslaved, now I’m free… and with each passing day I realise how great is that freedom.