Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Boundaries of Freedom

My oldest son is twelve years old, and he seems to be stuck a phase in which he is constantly fighting for control of his life.  He obviously wants the freedom to do what he sees fit.  His dad and I realize that at twelve years of age, he possesses neither the wisdom nor the maturity to be able to make all the decisions that he so badly wants to make.  My husband and I are trying to get our son to realize that the more he fights against our boundaries for him, the tighter those boundaries get.  The freedom he so desperately wants is attainable for him, but only as he learns to function within the boundaries that we have given him.

This struggle that my son is having is nothing new.  In fact, the desire to set aside authority in an attempt to govern oneself is as old as time.  It began when God first created mankind, when He created Adam and Eve and gave them the Garden of Eden.  They had complete freedom in the Garden, no limitations whatsoever.  Except for one rule.  One.  Don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  If they could obey that one rule, they could live in total freedom. 

For a time, Adam and Eve willingly submitted to God’s one rule, and life was sweet.  Their food was provided for them, they enjoyed uninhibited fellowship with each other and with God, there was no strife, no struggle.  And then Satan entered the picture, and he convinced them that God’s one rule was not established to protect them, but to limit them. He convinced them that they could set God and His authority aside, and that they had the ability and the right to choose their own course of action.  What they did not understand was that by doing so, they were forfeiting the very freedom they thought they would gain.  Essentially, they traded the safety and perfect freedom of the Garden for a life of slavery in a broken world.

Now jump forward to the 21st century.   Society today is still in pursuit of what it perceives as freedom.  The freedom to do as we choose, to be our own authority.  Defiantly, much of our world has said, “We don’t need a God to tell us what is good for us.”  Even as Christ-followers, many times we choose to exchange true freedom for our “right” to do as we please.  We reject His boundaries for us and choose instead to be slaves to the very things we thought constituted freedom.  We reject the peace and the security of a life governed by an all-knowing, all-powerful God, and hand ourselves over to an underhanded, uncaring, abusive enemy. 

God sent His Son to break the chains of slavery and to reestablish the freedom of His Kingdom on earth.  The perfection of Eden is long gone, but access to the kind of freedom that God intended for His creation to enjoy is still available to us through His death and resurrection.  We do not have to listen to the voice of our enemy when he whispers to us that we should be our own god.  Oh, he’ll try every lie he can fashion to make us believe that submission to God limits our life in some way.  He’ll paint a pretty picture of life without God, but the moment we listen to him and give in to his temptations, that picture morphs into one of captivity.  Freedom is not the option to make our own choices and to do as we please.  Freedom, as God originally designed it, is the ability to live in perfect harmony with one another and with God, without fear, without condemnation, without hate or death or sorrow… This freedom that humanity forfeited so long ago was bought back by the blood of Christ, and is protected by God Himself.  Yes, continued access to this freedom requires our submission to Him, but hold fast to the truth the boundaries that God established, that He asks us to submit to, are for our good, not for our harm (Jeremiah 29:11) .  Satan will tell you that these boundaries are limitations, but hear instead the voice of the Spirit telling you otherwise, that they are indeed the pathway to true freedom, the way God planned it “in the beginning.”

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