Freedom is a word that we tend to use a lot this time of year. And we should. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave! But what does it mean to be free?
Maybe you are familiar with the Rolling Stones song “I’m Free.” If not, here is the chorus… “I’m free to do what I want any old time.” But we don’t need a British band to tell us Americans how to exercise our freedom. Do we? We can only imagine King George smiling as we take direction from across the pond. (Da da da dat da dat da da da da ya da)
As Americans, we have rights… right? The right to life, liberty and the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Which begs the question, what does it mean to pursue happiness? Interesting phrase isn’t it? What if I told you that the pursuit of happiness does not mean what we think it means.
Most of us would agree that we are not free to do whatever we want any old time. (Sorry Mick Jagger) Not at all actually. That is not freedom… that is anarchy and the definition of hedonism… the cry of those who can’t get no satisfaction!
Rather to pursue happiness, at least within Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, means that we are free to live a life of virtue and charity. To live the best life we possibly can with the time we are given. To live a virtuous life and to die with a clear conscience. To live this way is the path to true happiness. It was this type of charity that kept our nation together after the war.
Many years earlier the apostle Paul urged us to pursue happiness by living according to the Spirit of God. We are to live by the Spirit not the desires of our fleshly bodies. Take a look at the words of Paul from one of his first letters. It was written to the churches in the region of Galatia!
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:19-25
I love the statement… “Against such a life there is no law.” Because if we live according to the Spirit we are not enslaved to our sinful nature. We can then live both free and happy!
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. – Galatians 5:1