What is Freedom?

Freedom is a word we use a lot. As Americans, we do not hesitate to tell people that we are a free people. What does freedom really mean to an American Christian? The secular understanding of freedom is different from the Christian understanding of freedom. As Americans, we speak of our freedom as a country free from Britain. As individuals, we speak of our freedom of speech which we treasure so much, and other freedoms that the bill of rights guarantees us. It is good to have these freedoms and we should work to provide and protect these everywhere in the world.

In an ever increasingly secularized country as ours, it is easy for Christians to equate Christian freedom with state freedom. I will be exercising my freedom of speech if I use uncharitable language toward a person I disagree with, but as a Christian, Christ calls me to love even those who may seem unlovable. What then is Christian freedom? Christian freedom is being in communion with God. To understand this, we need to look at God's original plan of creation. As human beings, we were created in freedom and for freedom. God created us out of his free will and gave us that free will. He gave us free will that we may choose him. In our Baltimore Catechism we learn, "God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in the next."

Being created in God's image and likeness means that for us to live fulfilled lives, we must be in communion with him. Separating ourselves from God is taking away the most vital part of our beings. The absence of God in our lives is a creation of emptiness that cannot be filled with the material pleasures of the world. The overindulgence of material things is a reflection of God's absence in our world. The external freedom we celebrate will not mean much if we do not have that internal freedom, the most important kind of freedom. It is inner freedom that makes outward freedom meaningful. Inner freedom is only possible when our lives are in communion with God. Christian freedom is detachment from the world and attachment to God. It is being in communion with one another and with God.