The cry for freedom, sometimes silent and sometimes deafening, is on the lips of every category of persons, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, privileged and under privileged, all want to be free from someone, something or somewhere. The student wants to be free from running to and from classes while the one who works wishes to be, one day, free from the ‘rat race’, the child wants to leave home where daddy or mummy is in charge, some daddy wishes he’d be free from his boss while some other looks forward to his retirement, a people both old and young want to be free from their oppressors. We want to be free from things that people know about us and some things they don’t know about us, no matter how insignificant they are, it maybe chocolate or heroine, caffeine or alcohol, bad thoughts or gossip, late night snacking or sex, whatever it is that overpowers your will or claims your dependence; but this cry for freedom doesn’t come when the one held bound doesn’t accept that he/she is in bondage, for some, the “I’m just doing what I choose to do or like to do” attitude either clouds their mind from what’s really going on or they are yet to experience an event that will make them realize that they are really in bondage.
In what seems to be an irony, a man seeking freedom, envies the perceived freedom of another person and wishes to be free like him, while not knowing that the one whom he envies also seeks freedom in some quarter. An African adage says “A bird is free to fly over your head, but is not free to make its nest on your head”, even the man who wants to be free like a bird ought to know that the bird can’t do what he likes or go where he pleases all the time, because as a child, I’ve had to destroy bird’s houses or nest around the house when built in an unwanted area. It makes me wonder if anyone can really be free. As defined by the Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 dictionary, freedom is a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions”. This means that even when you are able to act and live “as you choose” you are still subject to restraints and restrictions, only that they should not be “undue” i.e they should not go beyond the limits of what is proper, normal, justified or permitted. But my question is, who determines those limits? if I am really free, I should be able to do what I like without any limits, which is determined by an external source, maybe someone or a majority. I still wonder why the speedometer of cars have the capacity to go at 240km/hr in my country, but the highest speed limit I’ve seen so far is 100km/hr, the car tells me I can go as fast as I like, and sometimes, I really see reason to, but there is a restriction, which if I violate, I may have to pay for it even if no havoc is done (talk about consequences). Someone who chooses to sell her body for sex is arrested by the authorities in some countries, because there are restrictions. Many act as they choose but are in jail or in detention because of restrictions put in place by the authorities who determines whether those restrictions are due or undue; someone thinks it is an undue restriction for someone else to limit his speed to 100km/hr when running late for an appointment and the condition of the road enables him to go a little faster, even a father can’t go into his daughter’s room without first seeking permission in a house where he pays the bills and sometimes, I find myself in such situations where I can’t do what I’d like to do at that time, not because I’m not able to, but just because I can’t, which makes me wonder if I’m really free, or maybe my definition of freedom was wrong, because I thought freedom means being able to do what I choose to or what I like without any restrictions. And so what if I have unrestricted access to drugs, what if it is not illegal where I live, I’m free to take it as I like, but guess what? The drug says your life will be miserable without me, you need to pay for me whenever I ask for it and not when you think is right, I become a huge part of your budget if you want to get a hold of your nervous system, wait a minute, I thought I was free. I wonder if I’m really free, or maybe my definition of freedom was wrong, because I thought freedom means being able to do what I choose to or what I like without any restrictions. But here it is that the authorities overpower my will and don’t let me exercise them as I would like to and on the other hand a common substance has my dependence and I have to submit to it, I thought I was free.
So I wondered if that book, which is about 6,000 years old has something to say on this subject, and then I came across the story of the man Adam and his wife, God put them in a garden and told them “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16, 17). Oh, I don’t think they were free, they were restricted, or maybe my definition of freedom was wrong. And then I moved a little bit further, and found a people called the “Israelites” whom God called His own, they were in bondage in a foreign land, and God Himself saw to it that they were set free, more than five times He sent a man named Moses to the King who held them captive, to speak to him saying “Let My people go, that they may serve me”. God got them out by His mighty hand, after this, He brought them to a place where He gave them His statutes, in other words, restrictions, wait a minute, they are not free, they’ve been restricted, or just maybe my definition of freedom was wrong. I moved further and I found a man named Jesus, you must have heard of Him, I caught Him saying “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). He said He wants to give liberty, in other words, freedom, maybe, just maybe He has a different definition for freedom, because He preached a sermon recorded by Matthew (Matt. 5-7) the evangelist, where He announced some strict restrictions, and since I like to see life through God’s lens, I’d like to take God’s definition of freedom.
“Let my people go that they may serve me”, freedom, according to these words, means being able to serve God without being under the tyranny of a spiritual or physical oppressor, such as the Pharaoh or Herod, an ideology or mindset, Sin and Satan and even you (self), or whatever it is that does not let you worship God acceptably. Many think that liberty to fulfil the desires of the flesh is freedom, not realizing that it is bondage to self which the Apostle Paul laments about in Romans 7, saying who shall save me from this body of death, and then he identified the one who will save him as Christ Jesus our Lord, the same one who came to proclaim liberty to the captives. Jesus taught that by knowing the truth you shall be made free (John 8), but then the truth makes you realize that there are also restrictions in the freedom it gives. In the Gospel of John, the eighth chapter, Jesus tells the adulterous woman to go, but with a restriction, sin no more, because you cannot serve God while living in sin.
Don’t you know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16). True freedom, is slavery under the right slave master. And sin is not that right slave master, neither is it Satan, it is not the addictive substance or activity, for two reasons, they don’t love me, neither do they know the best for me. What about me? At least I love myself, so I should have what it takes to be the best slave master for myself, one thing disqualifies me, I don’t know the best for myself, even though I may think I do, my wisdom is finite. I don’t even know what will happen around me this very next minute. It all makes sense now that I’m not here by chance, the One who created me knows what’s good for my nervous system my neural pathways, my digestive system and whatever system helps me function well, He knows the purpose for which He created me, He is infinite in wisdom and He is Love, in Him is found the full definition of love for humanity which is incomprehensible in its totality by the finite mind, but with the little of that love which is revealed, I think I want that slave master, One who deals with me based on a principle called love, He says “If you love me you will obey what I command”. Love is the only acceptable motivator, not the hope of reward or fear of punishment, it is love, because He lets you go anytime you want and doesn’t force you to stay or bind you, all He wants is for His love to constrain you, any other constraining agent diminishes His aim of wanting to have you in the first place. It would be a tough decision for me, if I was asked to die for myself to save me from an impending ruin, even if I’m assured of rising again, it’s still a tough one, but love motivated Him to do that for me. I want that slave master.
But there is an adversary contending for my allegiance, and he uses every tool available to him to ensure I’m not under the right slave master, he doesn’t care what it is, as long as I am not able to worship God in a way that is acceptable to God whether I know it or not, that adversary is Satan. The Bible records that he does not open the house of his prisoners (Isa. 14:17), he does not let them go, he holds them bound through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) and the only antidote to all these lusts is to seek to do the will of God for the sake of love, by totally submitting to Him, because I should not trust my own will. And this is tough to take in, in today’s world of the ‘self’ Psychology, where self is to be exalted and esteemed by self, and death of self is a lost virtue. Satan succeeds because his identity and his strategies are guised in the garb of the expression “Do as you like”, he doesn’t care what I do, as long as it doesn’t please God. “Do as you like”—that seems to be his only commandment—no wonder my initial definition of freedom was wrong.
But God cares, and He loves me, and after telling me to do what He commands for the sake of love, He says, He will send His Spirit to me to abide with me forever, so that with a cooperation of my will with the divine will, I can experience true freedom: obedience to the best slave master. A slave master who helps you with all the resources you need to accomplish the task He gives you, I want that slave master.
I want Him to tell me what to do and when to do it, I want Him to tell me what to eat and what not to eat, I want Him to tell me what to wear and what not to wear, I want Him to tell me what to say and what not to say, I want him to tell me how to act and How not to act, I want to love what He loves and hate what He hates, I do whatever He says simply because he said it, and let Him handle the consequences. I want that slave master, because he loves me and he knows the best for me. That way I can experience true happiness and freedom. So I thought I’d get my lines right before I approach Him and tell Him to make me one of His servants, only for me to find out that He had been waiting for me all along, didn’t I tell you He truly loves me, immediately I got to Him, he requested that I be clothed in the best robe and be treated like a son, he declared a feast and said “this my son was dead , and is alive; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:24). Can you imagine? He called me son, this is more than what I bargained for, I’m here to be a servant, but He calls me son. He’s no doubt the best slave master, all I have to worry about now is whether I will be a worthy son who will do his best to please Him, and He says don’t worry, my grace is sufficient for you, because my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), and since then my slogan has been “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13).
I found true freedom, I’m learning to surrender all to Jesus and be wholly His, He has promised to teach me how, every morning now, I go to Him just a I am, because that’s the only way I can. True freedom is total surrender to Jesus.