My essay title this week has been: “To be poor, is to be unfree” Discuss.
Now first of all, I am so thrilled to have been writing about this and not about Russell’s Gray’s Elegy argument or the description theory of names.
Second of all, and much more to the point, in one of my readings (Skinner’s ‘The Third Concept of Liberty‘), there was mention of how having a belief in human nature/essence/purpose influences belief in freedom. It quoted (with a tone of alarm and disbelief) an old Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, as saying that the service of God was the perfect freedom.
This is my freedom.
I believe it. I believe that no matter what I am prevented from doing, no matter what form of unfreedom I face, that true freedom is found in Christ. That service of Him is freedom. This true freedom may not be the freedom philosophers talk about, but it is the freedom they are looking for. I read J.C Ryle’s ‘Holiness‘ recently, and in that is the line,
‘The worst chains are those not felt or seen by the prisoner’.
The chains around me are my weakness, my sin, my shame and my pride. But my Christ died that the power of my chains would be broken, he died that I might find freedom in Him. What sorrow it is not to know that those chains grip you, nor that those chains can be broken.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says this:
9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
This is the freedom Christ offers. A freedom that comes when guilt is overlooked for Jesus’ innocence, when weakness is substituted for Jesus’ strength.
This is the freedom of being free from sin, of finding new life.
And the only price is surrender.
You may say that this is a very high price to pay. I say that I know that where I get to on my own does not amount to very far. I say that my reluctance to surrender is based on my need to be seen and need to be known, and my fear that if I don’t make myself visible, who will? But then, what is it that I want to gain through being seen and known? Nothing that Jesus hasn’t already given me in abundance in the grace that He gives.
It is Jesus that paid it all, paid the high price, sacrificed heaven to pay the price my guilt demanded, and did so freely. He did it knowing that with the freedom He himself gave me, I may not choose Him though He chose me.
The most worthwhile freedom is that which Christ gives. Freedom from all chains, freedom to stand before the throne, freedom to call Jesus not just ‘King’ but ‘Father’.
This is my freedom.