9 If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36
Drowning in Freedom – If Yeshua sets you free, what are you free to do? The cultural understanding of freedom would incline you to answer, “Well, I am free to live the life I want. I’m free to choose, free to pursue happiness, free to make what I want of my life.” Ah, yes, that would certainly be a Greek understanding of eleutheros (free). But it isn’t what Yeshua would say. His view of freedom is inextricably tied to one thing and one thing only – to serve God. He is free to be God’s slave.
In spite of the appeal of the Greek idea of freedom, the actual human experience of such individual license is not freedom at all. If you take a careful look around, you discover that we are drowning in freedom. For one man to be completely free, all other men must be imprisoned. No man is absolutely free to do whatever he wishes unless he first imprisons all those who would also choose their own liberty. But every man can be free to choose slavery. The difference between those who embrace the Messiah’s view of freedom and those who do not comes down to this: those who do not follow in the footsteps of the Messiah are not really free at all. They are already slaves to their own desire for independence. They were never able to make a real choice since they were born slaves to the need for community restraint of freedom. But once the Messiah opens the prison door, we are empowered to “become” the sons of God. How? By actually choosing to be slaves to Him.
The progenitor of our seductive slavery is Havvah (Eve). Consider the appeal of the serpent. “Your eyes will be opened and you will become like elohim – gods.” The Hebrew word is plural. You will not become God, but you will become like gods. How? By making self-determination the ruling principle of your life. Havvah thought that she could become a better person if she could just determine for herself what she needed from life. So, she chose to listen to her inner voice rather than to the external advice of God. In that instant, she became a slave, stripped of relationship with her God. We experience exactly the same “original” sin when we make the pursuit of independence the operating principle of life. What did Yeshua say? “The one who seeks to save his life shall lose it.”
There is no Greek idea of freedom in the Bible. None. Man is not free. Not before he sees his pitiful condition and not after he repents. Freedom is not an inalienable right. Man was created to be bound by covenant relationship to his Creator. There is choice, but the choice is not freedom. Choosing to serve the God who is compassionate, holy, just and good is choosing to put away the mythology of freedom. That’s very difficult to do, especially in a society that venerates “freedom” as the most important thing in life. Havvah would certainly provide a different kind of advice today. She learned the hard way. Apparently, we do too.
God’s way is much simpler. Just do what He says. There is no great anxiety worrying about the pro’s and con’s of choice. There is no numbing confusion about sorting through all the possibilities. God’s way is a straight path. Stop-Wait-Listen-Act. I don’t know why we get so muddled. Maybe we’re trying too hard to be free. Maybe we think slavery is a bad thing. Maybe we’re really not so anxious to follow in the footsteps of Yeshua, a slave to the Father.
Topical Index: Freedom, Slave, eleutheros