When the William Wallace character in the movie, Braveheart, was about to be executed, his heart reached out to gather once again all the love it had for his native land and its people. Then he filled his tortured lungs one last time, and everything that made him who he was emptied itself as he thundered out a single explosive word, “FREEDOM!” It was the most powerfully moving and unforgettable moment in the story and a scene that would live on well after the closing music died and the list of credits had ended.
“Freedom.” It’s much more than a word we hear with our ears. It’s an idea that springs to life in our hearts. We feel its quickening pulse every time we contemplate that word and what it means. Freedom can become a vision that changes our view of the world, redefines our concept of who we are, and alters the course of our future. The possibility of freedom rises up to confront every form of oppression and bondage that depraved minds have ever conceived and offers hope. In a world filled with an endlessly expanding list of examples of cruelty, freedom is a force the tyrants of the world cannot long contain.
Whatever the definition of freedom happens to be for any of us at any given moment, our hearts long to embrace it. Sometimes the freedom we crave represents deliverance from conditions we find intolerable, and at others, it translates into liberty that allows access to things that may otherwise have been unattainable. Either way, its allure is powerful, but there’s something about its nature we often forget to consider, especially from a Christian perspective — that freedom is “conditional.”
A Quality Misapplied ~
Christians apparently love to adopt and promote the notion that some of the most profound, costly, and complex gifts that God ever offered us were offered unconditionally, which usually carries the connotation that they are also without limit. God did make it clear that His love for us is unconditional, but I’ve heard preachers, teachers, and singers extrapolate on that quality and expand it to include an array of things that aren’t unconditional at all. They make blithe remarks about unconditional forgiveness, unconditional acceptance, unconditional peace, unconditional approval, and of course, unconditional freedom.
His love for us is unconditional, but I’ve heard preachers, teachers, and singers extrapolate on that quality and expand it to include an array of things that aren’t unconditional at all.
All those concepts are profound and priceless expressions of God’s heart and reveal much about His nature. Exploring them promises rich and possibly eternal rewards, and we heartily encourage diving into such an endeavor. But since freedom is in the news and on our hearts this time of year, let’s focus our attention in that direction and begin with a familiar statement Jesus made about it.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him,
“’If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.'” John 8:31-36 (NKJV)
Before Jesus ever introduced the idea of truth or freedom, He established a preliminary condition upon which both of them would rest. Prior to promising anything, He inserted the little word “if.” The meaning is simple, and its intention is clear and uncomplicated. The truth He referred to and the freedom that it would make possible were never random things tossed out like a handful of grain to a bunch of chickens. Freedom was not a gift to be claimed by anyone and applied to any set of circumstances, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t available to everyone. Like the love that motivated all He did and the salvation He died to secure, the freedom He offered was intended for all of us . . . but would not be available until certain conditions were met.
An Invitation for Invasion ~
At this time in our history, America is being subjected to an invasion. A massive and apparently endless wave of humanity is pouring over our southern border because they’ve been told that the freedom that America represents can be had by simply coming here and claiming it. They believe that they should be given food, clothing, housing, medical care, and education, all with no requirement from them beyond showing up. Unfortunately, multitudes of leftists who want the government to take over everything have forgotten that the freedom Americans enjoy was not just randomly handed out to those who founded this nation because they showed up. Every Fourth of July should be a reminder to all of us that the path to the freedom we enjoy began because a group of people were determined to either find or create a place where they could openly live out the principles taught by the Word of God.
The freedom Americans enjoy was not just randomly handed out to those who founded this nation because they showed up.
The liberty that came to be the hallmark of our nation didn’t come cheap. It had to be purchased with the precious currency of human life. It was the lifeblood of patriots, the bitter tears of those who watched them die, and the passionate prayers of those who were ready to sacrifice everything for a cause greater than themselves that made this country, not a collection of career politicians passing out edicts from their paneled meeting houses.
Freedom is not unconditional. It only lives when the principles that define it are embraced in the hearts of those who desire it. When its dynamic and deeply personal conditions are met, freedom springs to life and what began as an idea becomes a way of life. But when the truth that undergirds it is rejected, the way of life that it demonstrates dies, and soon the freedom that depended on it dies along with it.
Inserting a Vital Term ~
Jesus used a very interesting term in laying out His offer of freedom. It’s the word “abide.” It means “to live,” and it’s a simple way of saying that if the principles He taught don’t find expression in our lives, then we’re really not His followers at all. If we fail to meet that condition, then neither the truth He embodied nor the unique kind of freedom He offered would be available.
I’ve met people in jails who rejoiced in the freedom Jesus gave them, and I’ve met people in executive suites with salaries I could only dream about who were in hopeless bondage to sins they couldn’t control. Freedom is dying in America in direct proportion to the number of people who begin to think liberty is just a political gimmick that can be handed out at the whim of Washington bureaucrats. May God grant us some patriots in America like William Wallace, men, and women who are willing to gather every love they ever had for this country and thunder “Freedom!” once again–even if it takes our dying breath.
In addition to his website, Gallagher’s Pen, where he publishes a weekly blog with a primary emphasis on unfolding responses to culturally relevant topics in accordance with Biblical insights, Ron Gallagher contributes regularly to Refresh Bible Study Magazine and various other freelance efforts. He is also a church consultant, featured speaker, and newspaper columnist. Connect with him at www.GallaghersPen.com or www.facebook.com/GallaghersPen.Ron’s new book, Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth, is available on Amazon.