I used to buy into the idea that freedom was about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I thought freedom was primarily the ability the make my own choices.
Then I realized that while that’s part of it, the ability to make my own choices was never enough for true spiritual freedom, because I tend to make selfish choices that keep me enslaved to sin.
In the Bible freedom is more about identity (who we are) than choice (doing what we want), and that identity is always connected to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
In a letter to the church at Corinth, St. Paul wrote:
Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17)
And what does the Spirit do? He changes our hearts to be more like Christ, because Christ perfectly shows us the Father, and as image-bearers of God, this was our original design as human beings!
We are set free, Paul says in Romans 8:4, “in order to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law.” What’s the righteous requirement?
At the most basic level it’s to do good works, to worship God. It is to show forth, to demonstrate, to radiate the beauty and goodness and love of God.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that when we are doing these things we are displaying the image of God to the world.
Here’s a way think about this idea of identity being the crucial aspect of freedom: Imagine a fish. Regardless of the set of choices in front of him, freedom for the fish is to swim! He was created for it!
Freedom for a bird is to fly. Freedom for trees is to grow. Freedom for you and I is to give glory to God by living in a loving relationship with him!