Free? Really?

I grew up before the rebellious sixties when young people threw off what they considered a kind of slavery to tradition including Christianity.

As I look back at the decades since, there seems to have been a constant rebellion – a repeated attempt by the young to free themselves.

Many may feel they have found the freedom they sought.  But I wonder.

Instead of freedom, I see widespread addiction, depression, anger, aimlessness, and family breakdown.

What is freedom?  What should it look like?

I think many young people in the 1960s thought that freedom was doing what they wanted and rejecting the values their parents held.  Those people probably did not have a clear idea of what would come after they freed themselves from the past.

Others had a firmer vision.  They wanted to change society according to a political philosophy.

This second group has had a considerable impact on our world.  They may feel vindicated in their rebellion.

But are people freer now than they were decades ago?

In my view, they are not.  They may be free of many social constraints, but they are prisoners in other ways.

I believe that personal freedom is a bit of an illusion.  We all depend on others – for love, for employment, for emotional growth and satisfaction.

As well, the Bible makes clear that there are two forces at work in our society – the force of evil under the direction of Satan and the power of love flowing from God.  People are being driven to make a choice between the two kingdoms.

The great 23rd Psalm states where David stood: “The Lord is my shepherd.”

The picture of shepherd and sheep runs through scripture – it was often used by Jesus.

In Matthew 9:36, it says: “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

It is not flattering for us to picture ourselves as sheep.  But I believe it is accurate.  I may think I’m in control of events but I’m constantly finding out that I’m not.

What is wonderful in that Matthew passage is Jesus’ reaction to seeing our helplessness.  He has compassion.  His heart goes out to us.  He is offering to be our shepherd.

A shepherd guides and defends his sheep; he makes sure they are well fed; he rescues them when they are lost.

I have chosen Jesus as my shepherd.  I frequently wander away from the flock, but he is constant – he finds me and brings me home.  He cares for me.

Freedom?  I have freely decided to cast aside my helplessness to belong to God.


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