We may represent many different views of freedom, many ways in which we fantasize being free, as opposed to our present circumstances. In fact, there is a whole industry driving the global economy that fuels itself on this inclination: Advertising. If only our hair were fuller or less gray, our lives uninhibited by pain, our finances not an impediment to obtaining our desires.
Indeed, the world's perspective on freedom, when thought through to any depth, quickly devolves into The Land of Do-As-You-Please*. When we throw ourselves into such a life, we soon find that there is no satisfaction, that everything is fleeting, that we are, in fact, slaves to our whims and passions. As Ecclesiastes tells us, it is vanity.
The world also has its heroes of freedom, figures who might exemplify higher ideals of freedom or who defended freedoms in their time. But I submit to you a prime example of a person who knew true freedom, and that is Peter.
At the end of the Gospel accounts, we see Peter a broken man restored. He had denied Christ, but Christ had forgiven him and given him a job to do:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
In the beginning of the book of Acts, we see Peter's life transformed. At the risk of imprisonment and death, he preaches the risen Savior. He heals a lame man in the name of Christ, freeing him from his infirmity. When the authorities challenge Peter, demanding to know by what name or power he does this, he answers that it is in the name of Jesus Christ, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4.12).
Soon after, he is put into prison, but God opens the doors, and immediately Peter goes out and starts preaching the Gospel again. When he is brought before the rulers again, he says “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Here is a man who went so far as to deny Christ in the hour of His death now risking his life and his personal freedom to throw himself utterly into the teaching of the Gospel.
As we celebrate our freedoms as a nation this week, I encourage you to consider our state as humans enslaved to sin. Without a redeemer, we would never be free! Christ alone has the power to free us to live the life we were made for—a life that glorifies God. True freedom is found only in Christ, and it is my hope that you and I will live our lives not as slaves of sin in The Land of Do-As-You-Please, but in the freedom He offers, unencumbered by the chains of this world.
*The Land of Do-As-You-Please is a reference to a short tale from Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series.