“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!” – Galatians 5:1
Last week in my men’s group (we’re studying Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis) I asked everyone to share something that’s been on their mind, something they “can’t let go of.” The conversation kept circling back to self-centered behavior, the absence of a fundamental work ethic in so many people, and the cost of indolence both to them as individuals and to those who rely on them.
As our discussion progressed, a kind of paradox emerged. If we are ungrounded in our own souls, we tend to use free will for selfish gain – even though what we think we want fails to satisfy. However, when we chose to submit both to God and to one another – in a sense ceding the freedom to “do what we like” – we are satisfied, happy, and free.
We concluded that sin is a deception that offers freedom but never delivers.
The best definition of sin is anything that separates us from God. What if – I wonder – when we pander to self we are not exercising freedom so much as giving it up? Rather than ‘doing what I like’ maybe I am experiencing a kind of bondage?
If that is true, then the choice to follow Jesus and to be guided by the Spirit is actually a step into freedom. When the Spirit urges us to love and serve one another the result is satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. Not just that we are freed from the control of sin but free to embrace the selfless nature we were designed to enjoy.
I believe we were (we are) designed by God for the purpose of experiencing selfless community. When our choices lead away from love and service maybe it is not so much free will as it is domination and exploitation from a malignant source?
So there are two parts to free will, freedom from, and freedom for. The beautiful thing is that in making the choice to follow Jesus I am claiming both.