The Consequence of Freedom
The quest for freedom has indelibly marked the pages of human history—from the many renowned stories to the countless undocumented ones—as those oppressed faced the authorities and systems that denied them their freedoms. The now-infamous line attributed to Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” has forged our world today. We are the beneficiaries of those who have gone before us. They laid their lives down combating the many oppressive systems we no longer have to face. A next generation will benefit from our sacrifice today.
On an entirely different plane—yet arguably just as significant—the quest for spiritual freedom, the search for liberty and life outside of institutional religion, is a hallmark of the days in which we live. However, it’s an understatement to say that this struggle, our struggle, is vastly different from say, political or civil liberty. For one, our fight is not against “flesh and blood,” and I find I need to remind myself of this all the time. Secondly, the death required of us—and all true freedom necessitates death—is a death to self: specifically, death to our tendency towards self-preservation and self-advancement. In other words, we take aim at our own hearts. Jesus builds His ecclesia on the back of self denial (see Matthew 16:18, 24).
While the idea of freedom is inspiring, the journey towards freedom is fraught with many challenges. Why? Because spiritual freedom involves disentangling ourselves from our false allegiances and misguided alliances to a whole host of good things (and bad things, but they’re more easily dealt with, relatively speaking). Jesus called this repentance and, in declaring a new Kingdom, called us to turn from the secular and religious systems we’re entrenched in, not just from sin (Mark 1:14, 15). In other words, the journey to true liberty involves full-scale war with our desire for comfort and convenience, and our love for safety and stability.
The Consequence of Liberty: Disorientation
Surprisingly, the greatest consequence of freedom is disorientation. Entrenched in a system, we know our place; we know what works and what doesn’t. While our identity becomes wrapped up (and lost) in the system, it provides a degree of (false) security. Of course, this security can become a vested interest and the reason many don’t embark on the quest for freedom.
Repenting of our systemic entanglement and the false security it offers, both an initial decision and a continual process, forces us to rediscover our identity in Christ and Him alone. However, in this process of radical overhaul, the disorientation (the self-doubt, the second guessing, the exposing of tightly held assumptions) can be utterly terrifying.
I think that by acknowledging that disorientation is an inevitable (and necessary) by-product of freedom, we are prepared. Forewarned is forearmed. Now, we are better able to respond to the disorientation knowing why God allows it.
True liberty is a life centred on Christ alone, where we anchor our identity in the Father-heart of God. It’s a place of true security. The disorientation will ease as we proactively draw nearer to Father God and allow Him to reshape and mould us. As we learn to wholeheartedly rely on Him, and take our cues from Him, the disorientation gives way to life-giving liberty.