Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Function of Freedom

I’ve been pondering lately this quote by Toni Morrison, which I came across in Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott’s great book on the writing life:

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

I don’t know how this thought hits you, but I can tell you that for me, it knocked me flat. And I mean that in a very good way. For if this is true—and it immediately resonated in my soul as fundamentally so—then it presents an entirely new measure for determining just how free you actually are, one that I would think is far more accurate than the more illusory gauges on which we typically rely, like the thickness of your wallet or the ease of your daily routine.

Here’s what I mean: When freedom is authentically present in a person’s heart and life, then that freedom will naturally and I think quite deliberately set about freeing the hearts and lives around it. What if freedom isn’t just about my experience of things—my life, my space, my enjoyment of the day? What if freedom, when it’s real, is inherently revolutionary? What if I’m not truly free until you are too?

I like this thought. And I find it puts a much more dangerous spin on these words from Scripture: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1). That verse has always confirmed for me how deeply God values my freedom—to the point of dying for me that I may have it. But perhaps it says more about God’s revolutionary intention than I had realized. He knew that authentic freedom, once unleashed in a single human soul, could not help but advance to free the hearts of all those nearby as well.

Are you free? Am I?

Take a look. The answer is all around you.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that it is an absolute necessity that we walk our inner land with Jesus, so that everywhere He steps our land is reclaimed by Him for us, if we're to genuinely walk in freedom in our external lives. The freedom that we experience within, as evidenced in our utterly transparent, fearlessly vulnerable and pretense-free relationship with Jesus, flows outwardly to trigger visceral reactions in others. Some reactions are positive, some not so much.

Jesus encountered those whose lack of freedom clashed with the freedom with which He lived, but that never stopped Him from reaching out and connecting with whosoever came to Him. The freedom with which Jesus lived caused Him to open the borders of His life and allow entry to the most offensive and sinful people. He loved them. Freely. He let them get close to Him. He lived and loved beyond comfort zones.

That freedom and love, because I believe they must go together, transformed lives.

What would it look like to live that way? What would it look like to disregard our own comfort zones, our own safety nets, our own sense of personal space and boundaries in order to authentically connect with another and really know that person? How dangerous would we become if we lived that way? How radical would it be to live that way, from the inside out, so thoroughly that it became second nature to us?

Imagine the lives and relationships that would be transformed! Imagine how living and loving with fearless freedom would glorify the Lord. Imagine the kick in the booty that would give the enemy, whose purpose is to kill, steal and destroy!

Jesus said that He came that we would have life, abundantly. That abundant life is a byproduct of living freely. What's really cool is the more freedom we experience, the more abundant life we know, and the more freedom we bring to others, which increases that abundant life.

Anonymous said...

Incredible insight and definitely something to chew on today. Thank you!
Mb

John Akers said...

Michael – Your posting really created a flurry of thoughts. What you said about the real measure of freedom, took me back to a recent conversation I had with a few friends about my dream to create a place of "safety, rest and refreshing" for those who pour their lives into others. I was lamenting the fact that I currently lacked the resources to create the type of place I envisioned, when one of the men I was talking with asked, "Have you ever considered that "you" might be that "place" of safety, rest and refreshing?

I was kind of taken back at first. I was envisioning a physical place and my friend saw something much deeper and more important. Reading your post brought this conversation to mind, and I had to consider again (it usually takes a few hits in the head) the thought that I will never be able to truly offer a physical space of safety and rest for others, if I am unable to first of all, create that space within myself.

If it is true that freedom is only authentically present in a person’s heart and life, if it impacts the lives of those around them, might it not also be true that I will never be able to create a physical place for others to find genuine refreshing until it is a central part of who I am?

Thanks for the “hit on the head.”

Tea With Tiffany said...

Freedom is my word of the 2009. Inching my way to HIS freedom is an exciting adventure. I love it. I wrote yesterday about this process on my blog titles Chicken Dreams. Someday soon, I'm flying. I can feel it. Thank you for your blog. My former life coach/friend shared your websites with me. I'm considering becoming a life coach. Want to help others really LIVE!