On Sundays at the moment we are focusing on and exploring ‘The Questions of Faith that People Ask.’ Here is the second part of the fourth question, ‘Why do you want to force your opinion on me?’
Submission lead to true freedom and love
– The notion of freedom can evoke strong emotions. But what is freedom? How would you define it?
– Look at John 8:31-36. According to Jesus, what causes people to be enslaved? What enables people to be free?
The assumption behind the rejection of Christianity as a straight-jacket is that freedom and restrictions are incompatible. But in reality restrictions often lead to freedom.
Think of a fish in a lake. It’s restricted. It’s trapped in the water. The lake is its prison. So you lift it out to freedom and place it on the grass. Is it now free? No, a fish needs the restrictions of water to be free. It is designed to be a fish, to be flourish, to be free in water. Anything else is not freedom, but de ath. So it is with human beings. We are designed to be human, to flourish, to be free under God’s rule. Anything else is not freedom, but slavery and de ath.
Think of a car driver. Do they lose freedom because they’re restricted to driving on the left-hand side of the road? When I was in India we were travelling by auto-rickshaw and come to a closed railway crossing. As we waited, traffic built up in a disorganised mass across both sides of the road. Meanwhile the traffic on the other side was doing the same. When the barriers lifted the result was pandemonium. It took ages for the traffic to sort itself out and for progress to be made. Traffic restrictions enable traffic to move freely.
Our problem is that we define freedom as choice. The more choices we have, we suppose, the more free we are. But this is a shallow definition of freedom. True freedom is the ability to be what you are meant to be. I am most free, as a parent, not when I can chose between several schools for my child, but when I can send my child to a good school. I am free not when I am offered twenty unsuitable jobs, but when I can do the thing I am gifted at doing. And I am free as a human being, not when I can choose many different lifestyles, but when I’m enabled to be the person I’m meant to be.
When I got married I lost the freedom to please myself day by day. But I gained the freedom, the ability, to love deeply and be loved. Christianity invites you to give up the ‘freedom’ of choosing your own lifestyle. In fact this is false freedom because we become enslaved by our choices. They don’t enable us to be human as we are meant to be so they leave us needing more. In contrast, Christianity invites us to find true freedom in knowing and serving God. It invites us to give up our autonomy in order truly to love and be loved.