The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

July 04, 2013

The Freedom of Obedience

By: 
Amy Hauptman

Today we celebrate freedom as a nation. But how are we to view freedom as Christians?

Rascal, Freedom, and Me

I recently learned a lot about freedom from a dog.

I was running through a nearby park when I saw a dog running away from a man. The man was frantically begging the dog to come back, but the dog clearly thought it was all a fun game.

I ran over to the man and asked if it was his dog. He replied, “No, he’s my sister’s dog. I’m just dog-sitting for the weekend and he got away from me. This is the first time that he’s tasted freedom.”

I realized that the dog was headed straight for the park’s exit, which sat on a busy street. What were we going to do?

Suddenly I had an idea. “What’s the dog’s name?” I asked. “Rascal,” the man replied. I headed confidently toward Rascal, took a deep breath, and proceeded to yell with the loudest and most authoritative voice I could muster: “Rascal! Stop!”

Rascal literally froze and then slowly turned around to look at me. I began to rebuke him as if he belonged to me: “Rascal, where do you think you’re going? Don’t you dare move.”

By the time I had finished my speech, I was within reach of Rascal. As I motioned to grab his collar, he fell to the ground in surrender. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to pat Rascal as if to say, “It’s okay, boy. Everything’s okay now.”

I began to think about how close Rascal had come to bringing a potentially dangerous situation upon himself. By not listening to or keeping in step with the one who was taking care of him . . . he almost got himself killed. 

Real Freedom = Real Relationship

If God is the source of true life and freedom, then building an actual real relationship with him and learning to trust him in all things should be our top priority. The more we trust God, the more we willingly and wholeheartedly want to follow his instruction, and the more we experience the freedom that is only found in him.

Real Freedom = Letting God Guide Us

Letting someone else be our guide is hard. It’s so much easier to go wherever we want and do whatever we want in both small steps we have to take and in larger life decisions. But God’s instructions to us in the Bible and in prayer are good, and good for us. Pay attention to how God might be speaking to you and guiding you this week.

Real Freedom = Dependence, Not Independence

I really enjoy my independence as a single person. But then my car got a flat tire this past week. Without my car, I am forced to be more dependent on God and others. Even though car problems can be frustrating, the situation is reminding me that depending on God is good. It’s also helping me realize the eternal truth that God is my shepherd and I am his sheep—not the other way around (John 10:11).

Called to Be Free

Paul might have put it best in his letter to the Galatians: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. . . . So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:13, 16-18).

May our celebrations of freedom today lead us more deeply into freedom in Christ—freedom that comes from following his commands and living in dependence on him.


Amy Hauptman is a writer on InterVarsity’s communications team. She is a former campus staff worker at UC Davis, the University of Nevada–Reno, and Truckee Meadows Community College. The three driving forces in her life, besides her love for coffee, are to see, learn, and enjoy as much as possible. She also blogs at amyhauptman.blogspot.com.


Read more about the freedom found in Christ:

Thou Shalt Take a Vacation

Eating Disorders, Grace, and My Failed Quest for Perfection

Or check out Os Guinness’s book A Free Peoples Suicide.

Comments

Nice illustration about the dog. I too have found myself thinking lots about freedom - both the joy and the grief it causes. Have you read The Atlantic piece about self control? (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/07/study-people-with-a-lo...) It talks about how using freedom in self-control actually makes us happier people.

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