The Danger of Freedom

Freedom.......

It sounds nice doesn’t it?  It has a nice ring to it........freedom.   

Hear it?  

We often hear it said that freedom is something we all want and seek.  Freedom to make my own choices, to pursue my own ambitions, to live my own dreams.  

But what if all of that is a lie?  What if freedom is not what most people seek but only what we say or think we seek?  

We say America is a free country, and while it started that way, is it really continuing on that great path?  Freedom at its core is a truly double edged sword. To have freedom also means to embrace what comes with it.  The great and often unspoken partner of freedom is a thing called risk.  

Throughout history, the most popular forms of government that have ever existed in the world have been tyrannical.  They haven’t always been evil per se, but they have been dictatorial where powerful kings and monarchs were the primary decision makers for the people.  In these systems either a key person or select few were given the great power to make decisions in which the masses were to live by.  Sometimes they were theocratic and a prophet or religious leader would serve as the mouthpiece of god, declaring to all the people the unquestioned will of the Almighty.....a God who apparently gave mankind ears, but only a select few the gift of being able to hear him.  

No matter what the set up, the common theme is a massive amount of people being controlled by a small few who hold all the power.  As if.....power can be held.   The truth is, power cannot be held......it can only be given away.  When Pontius Pilate declared to Jesus that he had the power to have him crucified or set free, he must have fully expected the man before him to cower in fear rather than boldly declare a truth that had to create insecurity for the ruthless leader.  That truth was that all of Pilate’s power was not his own....it came from somewhere else.  

The same is true for anyone in power. All that is needed is for the people that currently obey them to stop obeying them and all their power goes away.  This means that there are truly no innately powerful people in this world......only people in which the masses will grant great power to by carrying out their wishes.  

So how is it that this species called mankind claims it so cherishes freedom when historically it has been shown time and time again we will give away that freedom to others?  We will willingly give that freedom to governments, kings, and religions.  Almost unquestioned sometimes.......but why?  

I believe the answer to that question is why Jesus himself never became overly popular during his life.  After all, the Book of Acts reveals that after his time on Earth, there were only about 120 followers of Christ total.  That’s not exactly a huge network.  In fact, today that would be a tiny church, barely able to keep its doors open.  One would think to gather enough attention to warrant crucifixion that Jesus must have had thousands following him.  Yet if we recall, it was the masses that were crying out for his death in the end, not for their own liberation.  

So where did Jesus go wrong in appealing to the crowds?  How did he fail to win them over?  Perhaps Jesus made the critical “error” of only offering people freedom.....without removing all risk.  If the greatest motivator of humanity was freedom we would all seek it.  But our greatest motivation isn’t freedom.....our greatest motivator is fear.  And we will willingly and enthusiastically give up great amounts of freedom if we can be made to feel safe.  

Pilate attempted to appeal to this fear in Christ by declaring he had the ability to keep him from ending up on the cross....a power he clearly did not have as was later revealed in his act of washing his hands of Christ and declaring he found no guilt in him.......yet Jesus still ended up on the cross.  But that real display of Pilate’s lack of power came from Christ himself, for when Pilate went searching for the fear in Christ, the fear of being killed and tortured, he found none. It was that lack of fear that kept Christ from seeking his own comfort and safety in the matter.  He never caved.  

We now live in an American society that declares a love of freedom. But at the end of the day, are we  now lying to ourselves?  After all we....like the vast majority of mankind before us.....seem to be falling into the same traps.  As it stands, our primary motivator is fear.  Primarily fear of consequence.  We want a safety net for our freedom, something that allows us to feel free.....but if our freedoms lead us to a place of failure, we want safety from the consequences that very freedom provides.  

When the early adventurers set out to explore the Earth on their own, there was a great chance they were never coming back, that they would get themselves killed.......but they were free.  Out on the open seas, where were no kings to answer to, just themselves.  

We now live in a world where we have insurance for: cars, homes, renters, liability, flood, fire, health, and even life itself.   The list is almost endless and the entire idea behind it all is that we pay money to feel better about the possibility something bad might happen.  Money to people who tell us if we pay them they will make sure everything will be okay.  And insurance companies are just one example--we give away our freedoms to think for ourselves to religions that tell us everything will be okay when we die if we just think what they tell us to think.  We will tolerate kings--even bad kings--if that king can convince the majority that life would be worse without him.  

Yes...the greatest failure of Christ was that he didn’t hide the risk of following him...in fact he warned that you'd better count the cost before signing up for his club....you’ll be free, but that freedom might lead you to a cross. Just as it did for not only him, but for so many that followed him.  Yet somehow in today’s world the church views being threatened with losing its tax exempt status as persecution.  



We must be more careful than ever, America. We have become a very, very prosperous country, perhaps the most prosperous of all time.  And the problem with prosperity is that with it comes the ability to lose it....and with great amounts comes the great fear of losing it.  And when we are ruled by fear, we are primed and ready to not have our freedoms taken......but to simply give them away in exchange for feeling safe.   

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