Freedom is an interesting concept, especially here in the USA. The simple utterance of the word “freedom” has the ability to conjure up images of bald eagles soaring through open skies, Nascar engines revving up, and the American Flag being hoisted into the air for all the world to see. Our nation has taken freedom and made it our mantra, our draw. Freedom is a marketing strategy for America and it works like a charm.
“Come here and you can have everything you could’ve ever wanted or dreamed of!”
“Come here and you’ll be free to do whatever it is that pleases you!”
These statements may as well be those clickbait advertisements on Facebook that sound something like: “You’ll cry when you hear what this woman did when she found a possum in her attic!”
Do I click on it? Yes. Does it appeal to me? Yes. Is it nothing more than a slideshow of a woman cradling a possum that she dragged from her attic surrounded by advertisements and about 50 feet of spam? Yes. But the allure of that promise of something meaningful and fulfilling, no matter how menial, is enough to draw me and however many other people click on those articles. The idea of freedom in America is very much the same sort of facade and Christ speaks very clearly on what true freedom is in Matthew 8:19-20.
19 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
I know what you’re thinking, “Hold up Curt! That verse is talking about things we have to get rid of! It’s the opposite of freedom,” but let’s look at what Jesus is saying. When we read the passage, we tend to read it through the lens of our culture. As Americans, freedom means “I can have everything.” As Christians, however, freedom means “I don’t need anything, because I have Christ.” I wholeheartedly believe that Jesus was in no way attempting to deter this man, but rather invite him into true fulfillment. The Son of Man has no place to lay his head because he doesn’t need a place! He’s free from the earthly struggles because he is wholly connected to the Spirit and the Father. This very same connection is offered to us through Christ’s death and Resurrection, leaving us with only the job of accepting it.
The freedom exhibited here is what, I believe, the early Church understood so well. They knew that the things of this world were worthless and unnecessary in comparison to Christ. They were more willing to give up the things they desired to help others and to live lives wholly devoted to the Gospel.
Now, I don’t want you to hear me say that we shouldn’t have houses, or that we should be ashamed of ourselves for having anything at all. The opposite is true! Let us be grateful for the things we have, but in that gratitude realize that those things were given to us as tools for the advancement of the Gospel, not our luxury and comfort. We don’t have to share our possessions, but rather we get to share our possessions with those in need.
Only through Christ’s freedom can we be assured that there is nothing we have in this world too valuable to give away, because we already have the most valuable and fulfilling thing we could ever need. True Freedom.