Mystery of freedom

God created us to be free to love and submit to Him. Being free to do anything automatically implies freedom to do the opposite. Adam’s fall is proof that He was free to love and obey God. The desire for freedom is built into our DNA.

In every relationship, we want to be free to love and be loved but inherent in freedom to love is freedom to disregard, even to hate, otherwise there is no freedom. If our loved ones have no freedom to be uncommitted to us, they are not free to be committed. If employees or members do not have freedom to leave whenever they choose, they are not free to stay and that means they are not free. Our world functions by imprisoning people through legal instruments, which indicates that we have deviated from our default state of trust and are in a tilted room.

We imprison people by demanding love, commitment and respect, not giving them the option to do the alternative. True freedom encompasses the freedom to be contrary otherwise we are not free. Human beings perform better, relate better, are more committed when they are free to do evil. Love is not love unless it is a choice. You cannot claim to love God if you never had an alternative. Why else would God show Adam and Eve the bad tree? No one can claim they are not a thief unless they have been in a position to steal and chose not to. Your spouse is not faithful to you unless he or she is free to be unfaithful. Jesus qualified to be spotless lamb because He had the option to sin.

Freedom is risky, but when dealing with human beings, freedom is the only way to get the best out of them. Your spouse, your children, your staff, your clients, your members and partners will not achieve their fullest potential if they have no freedom to be the worst they can be.

When you restrict people, you imprison yourself and often the person still chooses what you are guarding against. When you give freedom, you free yourself even when the other party chooses the worst.

13 thoughts on “Mystery of freedom

  1. Beautiful! And because it is such with our Creator- granting us freedom – we too must do so. You wove so beautifully the connectivity between our Creator (his relationship with us) granting us freedom, and all relationships we may have as human beings. As you stated, “Love is not love unless it is a choice.”  

    We must choose to love, even at the risk of experiencing negative consequences from another who may not choose love. And then there are countless times when I chose fear (opposite of love) ….instead of freedom. 

    Blessingsto you Tolu!
    -Ella 

    • I believe we should imitate God in giving freedom to the people around us. I run a company where every client and every staff is free to leave us at any time they choose. Most choose to stay because of what they get by staying and what they lose by leaving.

      I do not think we can really say we love if we do not have the option of not doing so. Love is an act of the will. We choose to love even at the risk of experiencing negative consequences. Christ went to the cross at the risk that not everyone He died for will receive Him. We do not love because people respond positively to us. We love because we choose to. When people respond negatively, they bear heavier consequences than we do because they have chosen to go against the design of the universe, which is Love. True love provides freedom having presented the benefits and consequences.

      Thanks Ella for adding to this.

  2. This article is a philosophical idea of freedom… not a biblical one. God
    is the most free Being in the universe and He cannot sin. The Christian will be
    truly free only in eternity when we have been freed from all sin and only desire
    good (glorification). Jesus came to set us free. Having the ability to sin is
    not “freedom”… it is enslavement and bondage. Mankind is dead in sin by nature
    and by choice. It is true that we do what we want to do freely…. but because
    our nature is sinful… we freely only want what is sinful. A bad tree can only
    bear bad fruit. A corrupt heart can only bring forth corruption. Mankind cannot
    do good or seek God. We purposely suppress the truth (Romans 1-3). This is why
    the the new birth is necessary. Furthermore… the Trinity loves each other
    perfectly. And they love each other perfectly without the ability or desire for
    an alternative.

    You state we imprison people by demanding love and by not
    giving them an option to do an alternative. Question: Is it true love if the only alternative to love
    is eternal punishment?

    • Thank you for seeing this differently. Like I have said before , comments take the articles further.

      I actually did not think about whether it was philosophical or biblical, I just wrote my reflections on freedom. I am not a theologian, I am a very lay man using my mind to explore the scriptures. I am very willing to be wrong so feel free to object as I state the reasoning behind my thoughts. I will learn and perhaps we can both learn since we are not perfected in knowledge yet. 

      In Gen2:16-17, God presented the good and the evil to Adam. He was free to choose either. I have always thought from my meditation in scriptures, that God was looking for people who will choose to obey Him given the option not to. Like I said, it is risky but when dealing with human beings, they need to be presented with options. The article does not deal with consequences of our actions. There is freedom to sin but there is law and the law is that the soul that sins, will die. If I have chosen to sin, I have chosen to die. I am free right now to commit murder but if I choose to commit murder, I have chosen the consequences of doing so.

      In Deut28, God presents us with options – blessing or curse so we have full knowledge of what we are choosing. It sounds like freedom to me. Freedom to be blessed and freedom to be cursed. I maintain that I am not free to choose blessing unless I am free to choose the curse. I grew up in a Christian home and I came to a point of choosing which way to go but I intentionally, intelligently chose Christ given the alternatives and that is why I can present Christ philosophically, if needed. I can defend my faith and present the gospel intellectually because I love God with my spirit and my mind. I believe that loving God with our minds implies using our wills and our ability to make choices.

      In Deut30,:15,16, the Israelites are presented with the option of life and death. They could choose one or the other – that is what I understand by freedom. God, out of Love presents all the options and asks us to choose the good but implicit in that is that we can choose cursing and death instead by choosing to go against the commandment. It is a commandment from the One who created us and gave us the ability to choose, which is essentially an ability to sin. 

      Jesus was tempted in every way, yet He did not sin. When He was here, He was not only God, He was human, that’s why He could be tempted. God cannot be tempted, human beings can be. Temptation to my mind implies being able to sin or to refrain from sinning. Jesus was tempted by the devil, a very intelligent being, who understood that as a human being, Jesus the last Adam had freedom like the first Adam had, who fell. Thank God Jesus did not fall but I maintain that He could have and the devil knew it. That is why He qualifies to be Lord. He qualifies to be the mediator between man and God.

      John6:67-68 I am sure you remember the episode when some disciples stopped following Jesus shortly after the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fishes. Jesus asked the twelve, “will ye also go away?” Peter’s response showed he had considered the alternatives and chose to stay with Christ. They were free to leave if they wanted to. I follow Christ because I am not under compulsion to. Yes, there are consequences of not following the way the truth and the life but I am free to go the other way. I am free to go to hell. I have chosen not to go there.

      In the book of Revelation, Jesus said several times to the churches, “he that overcometh…”. Implicit in that is that there is something to overcome and that overcoming is a choice. There is freedom to be defeated.

      He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, said Jesus in the same book of Revelation. That is absolute freedom. In other words, if you want to go to hell, feel free to go.

      No one ends up in heaven or hell by accident or by compulsion. They made the choice to go there and heaven begins here, just as hell begins here. They are choices. God who is Love presents us with heaven and hell. He is still Love when people choose to go to hell. The only alternative to eternal life which Love died to give us, is eternal death.

      The reason we preach the good news, the reason for this blog is to present people who are dead in sin like we were, with options. When you and I were dead in sin, we came to a point of choosing. People who are dead in sin, still have the freedom to choose to accept Christ or not. (Like we did, sinners choose to accept Christ while they are still sinners not after they become righteous.) No one who reads this blog will say they have not heard that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Everyone on the planet will have to choose to accept Christ or not. That to me, is freedom and is love.

      These informed the blog post. There are more scriptures to back up what i wrote but sir, please feel free to test the spirit behind everything I have written.

      • If a person is dead in their sins…..they are dead. A dead person does not make many choices.

         God Himself must raise the dead sinner to life. Ezekiel
        36:25-27….”Then “I” will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.
        “I” will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover,
        “I” will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and “I” will
        remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I”
        will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will
        be careful to observe My ordinances.

        Again….if a dead sinner is left to make choices they will always choose sin. When God raises a dead sinner to life…..then they can respond to their Lord. God is sovereign and we are not.

         

        • I thank you for your response and I believe readers of this blog appreciate your comments. I learn a lot in the process of responding as we go deep in a theme. Blogging is risky but blogging about truth is riskier because our knowledge is imperfect. But still, we must take the plunge and present what we know, what we see. The sovereign God who has chosen to work with us in our imperfections can use our partial knowledge to enlighten others, including dead sinners. I am willing to be wrong and therefore stand to be corrected.

          These are fine points but I believe they make a difference to how we see and treat people who are spiritually dead like we once were.

          When man died in the first Adam, his body and his mind were still alive. It was his spirit that died, being disconnected from God, which is hell from here.  While still physically alive, spiritually dead people can physically and mentally apprehend God, as a prelude to spiritual transformation and translation into the kingdom of heaven, from here.

          Even though man was spiritually dead, God could still reach him. The sovereign God’s jurisdiction covers the physical realm, where dead man lives. Out of Love and Freedom, God continues reaching out through the avenues that are still open. God spoke to Adam after he died. God reached out to spiritually dead Abraham, our father. Spiritually dead David wrote Spirit-inspired Psalms and foresaw Christ. Spiritually dead men and women have responded to God through the ages. They wrote the scriptures we read.

          Spiritually dead people heard about the birth of Christ and came to worship Him by studying the stars! Saul of Tarsus was dead when Christ met him on the Damascus road. We should not box God. People have met Christ while reading the Koran! He can connect to spiritually dead people however he chooses, while they are physically alive. 

          Addressing staunch idol worshippers/philosophers in Acts 17, Paul said, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” God expects dead people to feel after Him and wants them to find Him.

          While I was a sinner, there were points when the scales on my eyes began to fall off as I was feeling after God. I could very well have chosen at each of those points to come alive but if I had died physically before making the choice, I would have remained dead eternally. Chilling. King Agrippa said to Paul, “almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” because he began to see the truth and could have chosen to follow Christ even while he was dead.

          God in his sovereignty made human beings in His image, which gives us a degree of sovereignty that God has chosen not to override. I believe that the power to choose is central to being in God’s image. That power remained intact after Adam fell and remains intact in every sinner that is physically alive. God presents himself to them with or without us at a level they understand, so they can exercise their God-given freedom of choice. God is sovereign and is always previous but coming alive does not depend only on God, it depends also on God’s images choosing to respond to God, even while they are dead.

  3. I love this. Freedom is the only way to allow someone to love you back. That has always been my understanding with relationships, be it with God to man, or human relationships. 

  4. This is so true Tolu. I want to look at it from the perspective of parenting. I may not be a parent but I am a child and I know how much of an issue this can be, particularly in an African setting. Parents are afraid for their children even though they have progressed from the totally dependent stage of life to that of adulthood. They then proceed to want to make life choices like career, faith, relationships, marriage and even within the marriage context. I’m not advocating that their guidance and input is not invaluable but I’m referring to the extreme case of when they impose their views and even resort to making their children feel guilty for not doing life exactly how they want. Typical example would be someone who had a flair for the arts, perhaps painting. His father is a doctor and wants his son to be a doctor at all costs. God may have great plans for that boy in the world of painting, hence the natural inclination. The parent bullies the child by systematically stripping them of their freedom to choose. The child succumbs and goes to medical school with absolutely no passion for it. The day he receives his certificate, he gladly tucks it away nicely and picks up his paintbrush to do what he has always wanted to do. Same thing happened with Prince Charles, Camilla and Princess Diana. Look how that ended up. Thanks for this Tolu.

    • Thanks to you and all the contributors, this blog is rich. Thank you Chidi for adding this dimension. I have a 4 year old daughter and a 10 week old son. I know that the best way for them to achieve their potential is to free them. I love your example of doctor vs artist. God may have deposited art in the child but the parents in their ignorance constrain the child and at times truncate the child’s fulfillment.

      As Jaycee said, I believe strongly that “Freedom is the best way to allow someone to love you back.”

  5. Yes Tolu. Freedom is a controversial topic; how much is too much or too little. I too see the challenge in the area of parenting. I am not yet a parent but in this day and age where evil is becoming more seductive, it’s going to be tough to let go and trust that your child will choose wisely.

    Another challenging area is in the aspect of spousal faithfulness. Let’s face it, adulterers and adulteresses are not always deliberately wayward. Some found themselves in a sticky situation and couldn’t find the strength to resist the temptation and from that point on, it became an addiction. What is a known “player” comes after your wife and you can see that your wife is subtly attracted to this fellow. Do you step in and shield the rascal off or do you allow your wife face the temptation and hope that she doesn’t break her vows. 

    Tough one! But whatever the case, one must not be controlling.

    • I love your comment Dan. It is hard and almost impossible to give freedom when you want the best for someone in the very seductive world we live in, without help from the Spirit. 

      Parenting is tough. I was incidentally meditating on how to discipline from the heart or in the spirit before I heard what happened to Pastor Creflo Dollar. How do you correct your child in love? We need the Spirit’s help. My meditation led me to Galatians 5 which talks about the fruit of the spirit as love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, etc. I am realizing that when done in the spirit, parenting will be gentle and patient. Gentleness and patience subtly suggest freedom but the aim of freedom is not lasciviousness, the aim of freedom is to allow God’s image to choose right without my having to force them, which would be dominating them. We are made in God’s image and not even God would force us. I need God’s help in this area because I love my children but I want to train/equip them rather than dominate them. 

      God must have witnessed the devil seducing Eve. Yet, he did not stop it. If he had stopped it, the fall would still have happened, but internally for she tasted the fruit in her mind before she tasted it in her mouth. It seems God needs people who, given the freedom to sin, choose righteousness, spirit soul and body. Christ was tempted too while He was here and God stood aside and let it happen.

      If my wife is being followed by a player, it will be hard not to shoo the rascal away but if I do that, what happens when I am not looking? Even if I shoo him away or prevent it from happening physically, can I prevent it from happening mentally? We define adultery as the physical act but Christ defines it as an act that happens internally. I think we need to be more worried about the internal than the external and dealing with the internal requires a different strategy, involving freedom. While ensuring that she is well equipped to make the right choice like God does for us, I need to honor and respect her by permitting her to choose whether or not to do it.

      Freedom allows the Spirit of God to do more of the correcting, the disciplining than I do. I simply participate. And I think He can do an infinitely better job than I.

      My writing about freedom by the way is not because I have it made but because I am thinking about it a lot (because i am less than perfect in this area like all others) and the process of writing helps me think through it with God’s help while hopefully helping others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *