God wants you to have a kind of freedom that is much deeper than the world’s idea of freedom.
His full name was Reesie Peanut Butter Cup Wright, but we called him Reesie, or just Reese, for short. I miss him. He was pure Beagle – complete with the cute brown, black and white coat, short legs, and powerful nose by which he could track a squirrel or dig up a mouse. And, like all beagles, he had a sugar-sweet temperament, was remarkably good with children, and, in general, just loved all people.
To us, Reesie was the most wonderful dog in the world and we loved him dearly, but the beagle had a major problem. Reesie hated every other dog on the planet. Our sweet, even-tempered, short-legged Beagle would become a Tasmanian devil around other dogs. It was a Jekyll and Hyde situation. When walking the dog, I would send my daughter ahead to look around corners to ensure no other dog was headed our way.
I coveted those people with stately Retrievers that would walk so calmly at their master’s heel as if smiling and nodding their golden heads at passersby and only winking at darting squirrels. And I marveled to watch other dog owners at the beach or at the park, let their dog off the leash. How wonderful, how free! Those well-behaved dogs would just walk along near their owners—no leash needed. Perhaps they’d chase down a ball and bring it right back. If my dog had escaped his leash at the beach, he would have been gone. He’d chase every seagull and sandpiper and attack every dog and then catch a scent that would lead him over the dunes never to be seen again.
I loved my beagle, but he could not be set free from a leash – ever. Only well-trained dogs can go unleashed.
The subject of freedom in the Bible is expansive. It’s one big story about Jesus, the liberator of captives Who promised, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). But the biblical notion of freedom is a far cry from the culture’s ideology. Freedom isn’t found in the absence of commitment; freedom is found through ultimate commitment. Freedom isn’t found by always having more choices; freedom is found when all choices narrow down to one eternal choice. Freedom is not freedom from obedience; freedom is the liberty to obey.
The more you submit to Christ’s powerful love, the freer you’ll be. And that’s the Gospel!