Even great concepts like freedom can be perverted by the temptations of the world. The world demands freedom “from” things.
Freedom. The desire for freedom is deeply ingrained in us. But what is this freedom that Paul is saying comes from the Spirit of the Lord? And only the Spirit of the Lord?
Even great concepts like freedom can be perverted by the temptations of the world. The world demands freedom “from” things. It is expressed in words like “I am free to do what I wish, whenever I wish to do it, without any constraints from any other authority but myself.” This is the tyrannical cry of the radical individualist. In that sense it is no different than the defiant words of Satan in John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.” That “freedom” is a delusion. In reality, there is no such thing as freedom without consequences, no such thing as freedom without responsibilities.
The kind of freedom that the Spirit of the Lord brings to us is freedom “for.” In Jesus’ death on the cross we are freed from sin and death. In his Spirit, we are freed from selfish desires. In the Spirit of the Lord our freedom is revealed in our choices to be “for” others and “for” the good of the world. We are no longer cabined, cribbed, and confined by the selfish demands of the ego. In the Spirit of the Lord we are freed to become people for others, people who knowingly, willingly and purposefully serve the greater good. In the freedom of the Spirit, we humbly choose to submit to the will of God, who is love. What could be more liberating? The Spirit of the Lord frees us to serve all that is good, true and beautiful. We are no longer subject to the whims of our immediate desires. We are free to sacrifice our own wants, even our present needs, in order to serve the greater needs of the other.
This, then, is the freedom that we discover when we place ourselves under the loving Spirit of the Lord: that we choose to be like him in all things, more and more frequently. It is in this freedom that we become true disciples of the living God. God is alive in the world today in and through this freedom. When we freely choose to do the will of God, in the Spirit of the Lord, he pours his graces out on the world through us.
Lord, give us the courage to choose to live in your Spirit more in our daily lives. This is true freedom; to do the will of God in all things. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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