This week, as our country celebrates the concept of freedom, I find myself reaching a point in Erwin McManus’ book Uprising in which freedom is the theme. Granted I’m still chewing over the introductory material (he just wrote the sentence from which the book gets its title—“. . . to experience this freedom there must first be an uprising—a revolution of the soul”), but I’m beginning to take that deeper look at freedom that is required of believers in Christ.

            What we often label as freedom isn’t really freedom at all. In us all there is a longing to be free, a desire to make choices. It’s part of our created being, our make-up, if you will. In striving for this freedom we look for all types of release.

            We are told that to free ourselves from the confines of society, we should turn to alcohol or other drugs. It will free your mind, remove your inhibitions. Sadly, to look for freedom here, we must turn ourselves over to the slavery that is addiction.

            Others suggest that, if we will gather to ourselves more and more material things—money, cars, houses, electronics, things and things and things—we will be free to be happy. Again we turn over control of our will to these things.

            Liberate yourself, we are told—do what feels good. Run naked through the tulips, engorge yourself with chocolate, indulge yourself with all that you want and desire. In doing so, you will be free.

            After listening to all of these voices, we discover along with the writer of Ecclesiastes that “everything is meaningless.” (see Ecclesiastes 1:2) The final conclusion is that freedom, true freedom, is found in reverence for God. When we begin to plant our feet in the footprints set forth by God we are truly free. That freedom frees us from all the world’s claims on freedom. It also frees us from all the limitations placed on us by the Pharisees (of old and the modern version who have become the watchdogs of all that everyone does).

            At the same time I find myself free from worrying over everyone else. I am conscious and concerned for all those souls with whom I come in contact. I bear witness to the freedom that is found in Christ—but I am not responsible for the decision that they make. I no longer have to look for places where I can impose my own brand of bondage so that everyone is like me. Early church fathers determined that the relationship with Christ was issue with believers and not the adherence to the physical restraints of religion.

            Freedom is not always easy, nor is it always popular—we are more comfortable when we give in to our confinements and feel (self-)righteous when we impose them on others. But true freedom occurs when we allow Jesus to be our confinement and our structure. When I let the walls I have built fall away, I discover freedom within the confines of Christ, and He shows me that His walls open up all kinds of roaming space for me . . . as well as others.