We are inundated with messages of the “self.” Find yourself. Be yourself. Discover yourself. Trust yourself. A lot of it is good, inspiring, even encouraging. However, underneath these messages is a belief that this is true freedom, and apparently we’re missing out.
That is, we can do this. We have the power! We do not need the confines of traditional wisdom or religion. We think for ourselves. We’re “free” spirits. This is the American way!
Indeed we can choose to live and think this way – we have that freedom. However, freedom, as Tim Keller notes, can’t be defined only in terms of restrictions. That wouldn’t be a true definition of freedom.
Can we expect a fish to be free on land? No. We expect it to stay in the water and hopefully not get eaten by a bigger fish. That’s a fish’s life. In our marriages, we restrict our freedom for the sake of love. We commit to vows, refrain from much of what we’d do if we were single. We sacrifice our freedoms for freedom.
Even the framework of our democratic society, as free as it is, has requirements, rules, regulations, and doctrines. Some folks talk of Christianity as oppressive, yet we could be required to pick up a machine gun tomorrow if our elected officials deem it necessary.
Freedom has limits. It always has. Even us “free spirits” who despise authority, doctrine, and rules must restrict ourselves in a variety of areas and “do” things that promote our “freeness.” These things may include meditation, study, rituals, reading…etc.
Tim Keller writes this:
Instead of insisting on freedom to create spiritual reality, shouldn’t we be seeking to discover it and disciplining ourselves to live according to it?
In other words, we often argue over restrictive frameworks as if they somehow shouldn’t be there. No matter what path we take they’re there. It’s best to find the framework that suits us and then ensure it is indeed the best.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson