The Price of Freedom
Our culture has become one that looks on the past with a sense of disdain. We laugh at the poor uneducated, barbaric, foolish ideas of the past and pride ourselves on what we call “progress”. C.S. Lewis coined a phrase of “chronological snobbery”, and I believe that we as a society are immensely guilty of it. Below is a quote from Lewis of him coming to the realization of his snobbery:
“Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also "a period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.”
In our day the assumption that we know better than any of those who have gone before is not only widespread, it is rarely challenged. I’ll let you think about the dangers, and foolishness of this reality. I however, just say that to mention why I love remembrance day. I love remembrance day as we have to pause and remember, and be grateful for those of the past who sacrificed to give us what we have today. Young men bravely went out to battle to defend our freedom and remembrance day is when we look to the past and are thankful for those who went before us.
Remembrance day is a day in which we appreciate the freedom that we enjoy and I for one am incredibly grateful to all those who fought, and many who died, to preserve our freedom. It is humbling to think that people lost their lives to guarantee my freedom. In light of that I would like to reflect about freedom and the price that is associated with it.
National freedom is something that as Canadians we greatly appreciate.If we are honest it is likely something that many of us take for granted. I personally was born a Canadian, grew up a Canadian and really never appreciated the privileges that we enjoy until I travelled to places where that wasn’t the case. However beyond national freedom I want to think right down to personal level. Personal freedom. Are you free?
What I would like to do in the following paragraphs is think about the price of freedom. To do that we first need to form an accurate understanding of what freedom is. Once we have figured out an accurate understanding of true freedom, we can then meditate about the price that was paid for that freedom.
The current idea of freedom that goes largely unchallenged in our culture today is “Freedom” means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose. This idea is rarely challenged and the belief upheld is that I should be aloud to do what I want, when I want, how I want, and for whatever reason I want. The suggestion that what I’m doing is wrong, or unwise is both unwelcome and frowned upon. Such suggestions or disapprovals are greeted with accusations of being both intolerant and judgemental. At the risk of being accused of these things I want to show you that such an idea of freedom is both flawed and foolish.
I would suggest to you that no one is truly free. Everyone selects something to which they will submit themselves. For some perhaps it is the pursuit of success, and on that altar they are willing to place family, friends, social life, even mental health, all in the hopes of making money. For others perhaps it is the pursuit of pleasure and again they are willing to lay down many things in the pursuit of pleasure and fun. We would refer to these people as workaholics, hedonists, etc. While we are often good at noticing other people who appear to be enslaved we are slow to draw the same conclusion about ourselves. We are quick to say that someone is a “slave to the dollar”, or label someone a “follower” if they seek approval from their friends. Yet we are slow to notice in ourselves the same tendency. My question is what is driving your life? What is the main thing that governs you?
What really is true freedom? True freedom is the ability to enjoy good things in life without them becoming ultimate things. True freedom is not the freedom to sin but rather freedom from sin. What I would like to show is that the sin in your life is not so much something that will bring you lasting joy but rather the greatest thief of joy. Sin does not bring life but rather removes it. What I would like us to do in light of remembrance day is to reflect on true freedom, and whether or not we truly have it.
In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul talks about slavery to sin. Paul says: “Do you not 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?” (Romans 6:16). Paul’s point is that you will either obey your own sinful desires or you will obey God. The question is which will you choose.
Before you allow yourself to react angrily to that statement let me first present you with a little bit of logic. If God created you, who would know better than him what will most bring you joy? If God created you, who better than him would understand your desires, your longings, your heart? The answer is obvious God knows! Not only does God know but he in fact cares! God is not a cosmic kill joy who is out to destroy you and ensure that you never experience happiness. Rather, the things that he has given as commandments in the Bible are for human flourishing. He designed the machine and he knows how it should work.
In light of that I want to mention something important. Sin, is a very powerful master. In fact perhaps as you read this you are starting to realize that you’ve got the wrong answer. Yet within you a great war is raging as you slowly are starting to realize that you cannot liberate yourself from the bondage in which you have been found. In verse 23 of Romans 6 Paul says “ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. “. Sin will always lead to death and there is only one way to liberation. That liberation comes by way of Jesus Christ as Lord. When we place him as our ultimate treasure we can enjoy good things without them being God things. When we have him as ultimate we can enjoy life not just for time, but also for eternity. When we have him as our ultimate goal we can enjoy the beauty of self-forgetfulness. That is true freedom, and Paul says, it I can only come through the free gift of God.
While it may be a gift that is free to you, it certainly had a high cost to God. Jesus Christ came to this earth with one purpose. He described it as “to seek and to save that which was lost”. Jesus came to rescue people from the penalty and the power of Sin. On the Cross Jesus proved that he has power over both. He suffered in our place, so enduring the penalty that our sins deserved. However, he also rose from death proving that he has the power that we so require. Thus when you trust in Jesus he not only gives you freedom from the penalty of your sin but gives you freedom from the power of your sin.
True freedom is not the freedom to sin as you please but rather the freedom to live life as it was intended to be lived. If I could just use an example, think of your car. If you are a somewhat careless care owner like myself it may be that you sometimes feel the urge to be free of car maintenance. It may seem as though true freedom is not doing oil changes, not taking the car in for service, not putting on winter tires etc. Yet we all know that a failure to do those things will, in the long run, have disastrous results. The same is true in life. While it may appear as through freedom should be doing anything and anytime, true freedom is being able to do the right thing all the time. We both know that a car is best used and will be in the best state when it is properly maintained. So too, a person can only flourish when they have been freed from the captivity of sin by Jesus christ and are so able to live a life of freedom.
So this remembrance day, I hope that you remember the soldiers who gave their lives for your freedom! I pray that you would appreciate the wonderful land that we call home and the joys and freedoms that it gives us. However, on a personal level, my deepest desire is that you would consider your soul’s freedom. I pray that you would not settle for slavery to foolish, sinful masters. Rather that you would turn to Jesus in joy, allow him to rescue you from your sinful trajectory that leads only to death, and give you new life. My prayer is that you remember not only those who died in battle but the one who died on a cross. Remember not only those who lie in flanders fields but remember the one who is alive and has power to grant you freedom. Remember, that while the wages of sin is death, God’s free gift is eternal life through Jesus. Have you taken the gift yet?