What Is True 'Freedom?'

What is "freedom?" 

We love to throw the word around, but what does it actually mean in its purest, most unadulterated form?

It's the ability to make choices without "absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint."

It's the ability to live without being controlled by someone — or something.

But freedom goes far beyond that. It's the opportunity to wake up each day and make decisions about one's own destiny. 

From the small decisions to the large, freedom offers us the chance to pave our own way.

In America, freedom is most typically associated with rights. The right to pursue happiness, the right to enjoy liberty. And these ideals are immeasurably important.

In America we can:

- Voice our political perspectives

- Worship God in the way we see fit

- Speak our minds

- Seek to fulfill our dreams, whatever they might be

I'm eternally grateful for these freedoms, among many others, and I too often forget to thank God for allowing me to live in a nation that so profoundly affords me the opportunity to make choices, both big and small.

There are too many places in the world where these rights don't exist — where people cannot express their beliefs and are harassed, beaten and killed for doing so. 

That is tragic and horrific. 

I praise God for America and the blessings given to us on a daily basis — rights too many of us forget to be thankful for. Our normal ability to decide for ourselves is an unattainable fairy tale for so many across the globe.

So, back to that question: what is freedom? As I've stated, it has much to do with rights (at least in the modern context), though my focus here, again, is "true freedom," the purest form. 

The Bible speaks deeply and profoundly on this topic.

2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." And John 8:36 reads, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." 

It doesn't end there, either. The Scriptures are filled with explanations of what freedom really means. 

Galatians 5:1 adds, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

It's clear that God created us for freedom, but that freedom can only be attained in its truest and purest form through Jesus. That might seem confusing; that might appear odd to someone outside the Christian faith.

But it's truth. Freedom isn't free. We were bought at a price. 

And as we celebrate Independence Day today and reflect on our nation's history and on the liberty we all enjoy, we must also remember that true freedom runs much deeper — and it can be attained not by tradition or ritual, but by simple belief: an understanding that Jesus, who was sinless, is God's son who came to Earth, died for our sins and offered redemption. 

Why not accept this free gift and let it transform you? So many of us are hurting, wondering what life really means, looking for something deeper. You'll find that meaning — that purpose — in Jesus.

Think deeper. Pray harder. Be thankful. Find out what it means to accept Jesus here.

Keeping Focus In the Midst of Chaos

Today's "Our Daily Bread" by Dennis Fisher asks, "What is your focus today? Are you preoccupied with getting ahead and making life more comfortable?"  I typically fall into a pattern of seeking out what I want in my life.  This isn't always a bad thing, especially when my goals and wants are meshed with the Lord's.  But, if I don't take the time to consult God and to ask for his guidance, I glide down a slippery slope (unfortunately, I find myself sledding downward quite often). Fisher's entry is a good reminder that our focus should be fixed upon Christ (and, primarily, on how we can be more like him).  With this as the basis for our thoughts and actions we are exponentially more likely to succeed.

I'm not preaching here, as practicing this is a prime struggle for me.  That said, the "Our Daily Bread" piece resonates with me and leaves me thinking about how I need to keep my focus on Christ if I want to "win" in life.  Often times, I am consumed by opportunities and experiences, but I don't always take the time to ensure that said experiences are, indeed, blessings the Lord wants for my life.

As a Christian, the hardest act is remembering that, no matter what, the Lord has a plan for my life.  While I may move forward in exercising my free will, the only way I will find the proper path is to align myself with the Father's will.  I know, I know -- it sounds much simpler "on paper."  But, practicing what is preached here is essential.  Just some thoughts for you on this fine Thursday.

Be sure to read the entry and be praying for this change in your life (if you're already keeping proper focus, rock on!).