Unexpected Freedom

God wants your freedom. I’m not sure if that’s all He wants for you but it comes up often. Freedom from anxiety (Matthew 6:25–27). Freedom from the fear of death (John 3 on eternal life). Freedom from a hard yoke and heavy burdens (Matthew 11 and the easy yoke). Freedom from shame (the beatitudes in Matthew 5:1–11 shows a kingdom where those who are traditionally shamed are the blessed ones).

Freedom seams to be an essential ingredient in the full life promised by Jesus in John 10. So a lack of freedom in your life will likely preoccupy God and He will work to grant that freedom to you.

Lack of freedom

Lack of freedom has many sources but a unifying theme: a lack of freedom stems from a lack of something else. Lack of food restrains one from living fully in many ways. Lack of self control makes one less free to live with integrity or discipline.

Therefore to become free you either have to receive until you lack not, or learn how to make full life and joy with what you have, or both.

Beyond a certain point (beyond poverty but without excess) humans cannot be satisfied (see the stories of Solomon and the writings in Ecclesiastes). If we live truly impoverished, in one way or another, God works to provide for us (think Israel in the wilderness).

But often in the case of excess (as most in the USA experience compared to the world’s standard) it is the soul crushing shackle of dissatisfaction (symptom: the attention economy) that restricts our freedom. In cases like this, it seems God uses the second strategy to grant freedom.

This side of eternity lack can be a gift because God works through this to bring us freedom. But it does not feel pleasant and it is not meant to be bourn alone, nor forever.

The path to freedom feels like hell

These freedom granting processes manifest in different ways for different problems. For each vice or idol there is a process for unwinding and they are never pleasant.

Freedom from vanity feels like humiliation.

From greed feels like poverty.

From lust feels like being convicted of entitlement.

From anxiety feels like an even greater lack of control. (It is true that the birds of the air are cared for, but they are still at the mercy of many things. And yet that’s the example Jesus uses for freedom from worry)

From self hatred feels like God showing you how precious you are. (What is humanity that you are mindful of us)

From hatred of others feels like God showing you your own flaws.

From arrogance feels like God showing you how you are approximately nothing. (God’s response to Job)

From sloth feels like soul crushing dissatisfaction.

The levers of freedom

I don’t think that God is out there doling out dissatisfaction and poverty just so you can be free. I think there is a natural cycle and when we choose to idolize work, money, sex or whatever, that eventually leads every person to a fork in their journey. One side of the fork leads to more of the same but with more consequences, the other side leads through suffering to abundant life.

On the other hand, this whole “lack is a lever that is pulled to bring freedom” isn’t an excuse to not help a true and enduring lack. (James on wishing well but not helping) Don’t leave a sister or brother in a poverty if you have the means to help. If anything, in these situations, we are called to a higher bar, because of the generosity give to us. On top of that when we give we not only help, we grow.

And besides, if everyone lived without excess there would be more than enough for all; we just need to distribute what we have to those with less. In that case we would be living in an interconnected, worldwide, generous community without lack where the citizens experience increasing freedom and full life. That sounds like Heaven to me.