Free at Last, Free at Last

We live in the land of the free. The Bill of Rights guarantees to us certain liberties. We have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to peaceful assembly. Our freedoms have made our country “the land of opportunity.”

Yet it’s a paradox. Freedom occurs in the context of rules and responsibilities. Freedom in our country doesn’t mean I can do just anything I please. An easy way to reflect on this is to consider the rules of the road. I have great freedom to travel by automobile. The rules of the road are in some sense restrictive, but viewed from another angle they are liberating. Imagine if no one obeyed the rules of the road. It would be anarchy. Suppose that no one stopped at stop lights or stop signs or driving on the right or left side of the road were a matter of whim. The flow of traffic would be impeded. “Freedom” from these rules would actually give us less true freedom.

Consider the words of Jesus – “and the truth will set you free.” It is easy for these words to be ripped out of their context. I’ve seen them engraved on buildings in universities, where the idea was probably that learning and the pursuit of truth is liberating. I’ve heard it used in pop psychology kinds of settings: “If I just tell my irritating roommate that I’m fed up and I’m going to move out, admitting this truth makes me feel free.”

But notice what Jesus actually said: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, ESV). The freedom that Jesus is promising occurs in the context of obedience to his teachings.

I can imagine someone complaining, “I don’t like being told what to do.” Yet another one of those interesting paradoxes emerges. “Doing our own thing” often leads to self-destructive and addictive behaviors. We enslave ourselves.

When Jesus promises freedom, it is the freedom to be human as God intended us to be. Jesus seeks to transform us as we slough off the old person of sin. And strangely in God’s intent, there is true freedom, although human hearts frequently rebel against it.

In the words of the old spiritual, freedom is having a King and meeting Him someday.

Some of these mornings, bright and fair
I thank God I’m free at last
Goin’ meet King Jesus in the air
I thank God I’m free at last

Free at last, free at last
I thank God I’m free at last

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