Alright! So we’ve finally made it. The last session of our Mental Health & Spiritual Wholeness series. Our first session we discussed depression. The second was a talk on anxiety and the third on addiction. However, it’s fair to say that these three different topics are heavy. All 3 are conditions of the mind that keep us bound in a space or enslave us to particular behaviours and fears. Surely there is some hope amongst this type of chaos. Our 4th and final session explores that freedom in the personhood of Christ. Before we get to that let’s discuss the issue of freedom.
What is Freedom?
Our perspective on what freedom has surely changed over the years. It’s not something that has remained constant. I mean, at 14 we thought freedom was to stay out as late as you wanted, go to bed whenever you want and have ice cream for breakfast (maybe I’m alone on this one). Now that we’re older, freedom probably looks a lot like, being able to take time away from work, to travel, to buy whatever you want without worrying about cost etc. However, in the grand scheme of things freedom perhaps looks nothing like that.
Now as I said before. We are Christians here at Sanctuary, so a lot of our perspectives are biblical. However, don’t take that as some sort of proverbial red flag: read on. Our speaker examined what freedom looks like from a biblical perspective. Freedom from the biblical standpoint has a two-fold structure. It’s not so much a freedom from something, but rather a freedom to be who you were created to be and to be that individual without any restraints that would lead to a contradiction of your true-self. Philosophical right? Don’t worry it’s not that daunting. Essentially, true freedom is to be yourself without worrying about what anyone says or thinks about you.
In a society like ours that’s riddled with political correctness and the high possibility of being ostracised for being, doing or thinking different leaves very little room to be yourself. However, what you’ll probably find is that a life without anxiety, depression, because someone has belittled you for being different and being enslaved by an addiction is true freedom. By no means is freedom from these things simple, nor is there a 1 shoe fits all process. However, two things that help is your perspective on freedom:
1.Freedom as a gift:
You know what I love about this sunset? It like magnificent sites that we encounter in nature; nobody gets to take credit for it. We can paint it, take pictures of it, write poems, books etc. We are simply acting as witnesses creating tributes on what we see. And freedom works the same way. It is not something we have to strive for. Like the sunset in this picture, the colour of your hair, the colour of your eyes; freedom is a gift. What we normally tend to do is exasperate ourselves to get free from the mental strain we go through. However, changing our view of freedom to something that we accept rather than to be attained completely changes things. After all, it’s easier to accept something good rather than to strive for it.
2.Freedom as Relationship
Freedom does not just exist in a vacuum by itself. It’s not something that you can keep to yourself nor can your freedom exist without affecting other people. That’s why what you do with your freedom has profound implications for others around you. It’s like a meal around a table that you share with others.There’s nothing that quite captures a shared experience like a meal around a table together. There’s a profoundly relational component that enters it; from the preparation to the conversation during the meal itself.
What is Freedom in Christ?
No single word resonates with millions of us around the world quite like freedom. In our society there are many books, seminars, adverts etc that discuss or express what it looks like to be free and how you can be free ( be it financially, emotionally etc). Where I’m from like many others we celebrate our country’s independence with jovial songs of freedom. Not many words within the English language resonates with so many. It’s ingrained deep within the human story and is not surprising that it is steeped within Christian tradition. After all, anyone who has attended Sunday school knows “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) and “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1).
However, the freedom that is a deep longing for humanity and a sense of existence for the Christian are two different things. From a general standpoint we see freedom as the ability to have choices, to operate without constraint and the capability to do whatever we want. On the other hand, the gospels sees such freedom as mere “freewill”; our autonomy to do what we choose. True freedom (freedom in Christ) is attained only by giving up what the world in itself sees as freedom. Here’s an example: A train was created to travel on tracks, The train is free to go up and down those tracks as much as it can. If the train jumps off of its tracks it is free of the rails that confined it along the path. However, in doing so the train no longer becomes free in the most important sense of the word. Sure it is freed of its tracks, but it is a freed wreck that cannot go anywhere for the train can only move along the tracks. There you have it…a train who is “free” but no longer truly free. That is the clear distinction between freedom in Christ and freedom as the world sees it. Freedom as the world sees it is the free will to do whatever it is you want. Freedom in Christ is going along the tracks of life (far away from the things that destroys the very essence of who we are) and experiencing life in its entirety just as it should be.