More and more individuals have come to believe that true freedom merely means the absence of restraints in our lives; that freedom means to live outwardly based on what we desire inwardly.
This belief is driven by a sense of entitlement—I am entitled to be left alone, to be free from the demands and expectations of others. This allows me to fashion a life that is pleasing to me. In today’s world there is an indissoluble union between freedom and happiness.
However, this approach to life does not seem to be working. Instead of feeling free, people are experiencing unhappiness because they find themselves continually enslaved and in bondage. They are following their desires and emotions wherever they lead instead of wisely conforming their lives to what they actually need.
Tim Keller says, “The modern view of freedom fails us by our very nature, because real freedom has to be compatible with our great needs as humans.”
He then asks, “What is our greatest need?” The answer of course is to love and be loved. To love and serve someone else with our lives.
Still, there is a problem here. When you enter into a love relationship, you lose your autonomy. You now have an obligation to be accountable to someone. But you choose it because it is the way you were designed to live.
In one sense, you give up your freedom in order to love. And you do this because this is when you are most alive. Over time as your love deepens for someone, the less control you have over your life.
This reminds me of the famous song, Desperado, written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley of the Eagles. It’s about a cowboy who refuses to love and let anyone love him. These lyrics are a picture of a man who does not want to give up his freedom to love someone:
Desperado, oh you ain’t gettin’ no younger,
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone …
The song ends with these words: You better let somebody love you before it’s too late …
If we are going to find a life that leads to our ultimate joy and well-being, we must submit to the structure that fits us and who we are. We must find the structure that fits our design because true freedom is doing what God built us to do.
It is critical for us to know that the most significant relationship He built us for is a relationship with Himself. Listen to what He tells us:
Isaiah 43:21 “The people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare My glory.”
Colossians 1:16 “For by him all things were created, both in heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him.”
I Corinthians 8:6 “…and we exist for Him, one Lord Jesus Christ.”
I Corinthians 1:9 “God is faithful through whom you have been called into fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Please hear this! God made us for Himself, that we would live our lives in a love relationship with Him. If we miss this, we will have missed the very reason for our earthly existence. Augustine put it in these words, “God, You have made us for yourself and our hearts will not find rest until they rest in Thee.”
Just as in marriage, in order to have this love relationship with Him, you must be willing to surrender your life to Him. Once again, this involves giving up your autonomy. This becomes the main obstacle that keeps many from a relationship with Christ.
I like to explain to others that Jesus is a King. The Bible describes Him as the King of all Kings. But he is a loving, wise and benevolent King who loves us and is committed to our well-being.
If you do not choose Him to be your King, you will choose some other king. It is not a matter of freedom, it is a matter of who or what will be the Lord of your life. Inevitably we will submit our hearts to someone or something. It is crucial that we grasp that Jesus is the only legitimate King in life. And the greatest irony is, He is the only King that truly liberates those who choose to follow Him.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.