Freedom is often widely misunderstood, perhaps especially in America. We think of the flag, a bald eagle, the ability to do whatever I want! Free from any and every constraint. FREEDOM! WHOO!
But that’s not what freedom is. In fact, that’s not even a good thing either. Take, for example, St. Augustine’s illustration of the fish. You could look at that fish in the pond and think, “That poor fish looks rather confined in that small pond. There’s a much bigger world out there. I’m going to set it free!” And so, you throw the fish up onto the bank. “You’re FREE!”
Except, there’s just one thing. The fish needed that water. It needed the water to move freely. It needed the water to breath freely. It needed the water to live. What looked like freedom, was actually its destruction because the so-called “freedom” was contrary to its design.
The fact is, there is no such thing as being free from everything. And that’s not a bad thing. Astronauts have found that being free from gravity makes simple, everyday tasks very difficult. And long periods of anti-gravity actually harm the body. Maybe you learned the hard way that being free from your parents’ influence is not such a good thing if you then fall into the bad influence of your so-called friends. So, rather than thinking of freedom as being free from everything, we need to realize that we are really only free from something, so that we can live for something else.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). The truth is, God designed us to live a certain way. And when Adam corrupted that good design with sin, God gave the 10 commandments through Moses to spell out the way to live in God’s good design.
Like a fish needs water, you and I need God. We need his love. We need his guidance in life. And, we need his forgiveness. Because if you inherited flesh and blood from your human parents, then you also inherited sinfulness from your parents. Every one of us is sinful. Every one of us resists God’s good design for us. Every one of us needs forgiveness. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).