Here’s a paragraph from my book that I’d love for you to consider:
President George W. Bush made a profound statement before the United Nations on September 19, 2006. It was about the Iraq War, but its truth extends beyond political discussion. Regardless of your view on the reason why he said it, the reality is undeniable. He said: “Freedom, by its very nature, cannot be imposed. It must be chosen.”
I’m less than interested in a political debate. Your thoughts on the nature of spiritual freedom and how we go about securing it for ourselves are what I’m interested in.
If someone forces you to have freedom, are you really free? Or, if freedom is something that you’ve been given but that you take for granted, is it simply a matter of exercising your freedom to do whatever someone else tells you to do or believe what someone else tells you is true? And, is that so bad?
Jesus gives an interesting definition of spiritual freedom in the book of John:
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT)
Jesus was speaking to those who believed in him. They believed in him and yet they weren’t free. Freedom would come when they put their belief into action by being faithful to Jesus’ teaching – all of it – to the best of their abilities.
Do you see irony in this? We aren’t truly free until we submit ourselves to Jesus’ teaching. He doesn’t force us to be free because that wouldn’t be real, just like he doesn’t force us to love him because that wouldn’t be genuine love. Jesus is telling people how to avoid being misled by spiritual leaders, and there was a lot of that going on with first century Judaism.
Today the church is growing like crazy in countries like China where there is severe religious persecution. Maybe they experience greater spiritual freedom because they have to fight for it. Maybe Christianity is struggling in Western culture because we haven’t had to.
Spiritual freedom is a choice that many Christians avoid. How does this play out in your mind? I’ll stop typing now as I anticipate your thoughts.