The What and Who of Meandering About

Thursday, February 3, 2011

For Freedom

As I have tried to stay updated on all of the demonstrations, protests and violence in Egypt throughout the last several days, I have found my mind wondering to the idea of freedom.  I confess that freedom is something that I take for granted.  The only time I give it much thought at all is when I am confronted by an injustice or a people's struggle for freedom.  This is one of those times. 

Freedom is such a HUGE concept.  What it means in one context may not be what it means in another.  What one considers freedom, another may consider an absolute impossibility.  I think this is what makes talking about freedom across cultural lines so difficult.  There appears to be no universal meaning of the word let alone a universal understanding of how freedom should or could be fleshed out. 


So, what does freedom mean to you?  How do you see it fleshed out in your world?  Where do you see its absence?


Here is a passage that haunts me when I allow the time and space for the words to take up residence inside me and walk around for a while.  In writing to the church in Galatia, the Apostle Paul writes these words, "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery...For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Galatians 5:1; 13-14 New Revised Standard Version).  Another translation renders the first verse of this passage in this way, "Christ has set us free for freedom" (Common English Bible). 

Can you imagine that?  We have been set free from the bondage of sin and the law through that which Christ has done for us.  And for what purpose have we been set free?  For freedom's sake!  Consider this for a moment.  We have been set free so that we can experience freedom.  Yet, for some reason, we allow ourselves again and again to be shackled by the bonds of the law or a pattern of sin and shame.  We have grown comfortable with that which holds us captive.  It doesn't have to be that way.  God has acted.  We are free!  Truly free.  Let us live into our freedom with the God who has set us free for freedom's sake.

For Freedom
I am a prisoner
held captive by…
the past
the present
the future
shortcomings
dishonesty
failure
defeat
victory
the specter of someone I never was
the shadow of someone I can never be
memories
actions
words
the inability to forgive
the unwillingness to be forgiven
jealousy
anger
guilt
shame
who I am
who I wish I could be
I am a prisoner

Looking at my hands 
I see that I am holding the chains
Chains that bind my heart,
fetter my soul,
imprison my mind. 

Yet, it is for freedom’s sake
I have been set free
But I must drop the chains. 

Open my hands!
Open my hands!
                                                             --- by Brian Shivers

2 comments:

  1. This post makes me think about an english essay assignment I had in college: write 10 pages about a book you like.
    The broadness of the assignment, the freedom to write about any book, make any point, support any thesis made it unanimously the most difficult one of the class. What is it about freedom that we so desperately yearn for when we feel as though we've lost it (to the point of a willingness to die for it), though completely incapable of handling responsibly when we do have it. It seems to me people require a balance in daily life: most people speed, but we'd probably all agree that police-enforced speed limits are a good idea.
    It makes me think about how truly other worldly the kingdom of God really is. Total freedom seems terrifying, radical, a state of being more extreme than we could imagine. In this life, I've had small tastes of the feeling of being free. Oh to be truly free, to live, to exist only in that state. What a feeling that must be

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  2. I got chills reading that poem (and I don't think it's just the poor heating in my dorm room). In my life, freedom is being who I feel I am called to be. That is someone who is bold and unwavering in my commitments. That type of freedom would lead me into some very uncomfortable positions. It's funny, because many times I have choice without having freedom. I have the choice to move closer to my true self, but emotional hangups often hold me back. I guess the struggle is recognizing the freedom I am given in Christ and living that out, one stumble at a time.

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