Independence or Freedom

We don’t live in a democracy, but in a micro-monarchy. A king rules, commands, and imposes limits and rules according to his choosing. Our will and preference become secondary or irrelevant to the desire of another who has the power to enforce his inclinations. There is a lust in all of us to be free from coercion, at liberty to make our own decisions, and control (seemingly) our own destiny. Therefore we resist interference, coercion and the redirection of our plans and opinion. In our particular place on the stage of world history we have been trained to assume that our ideas and values deserve to be recognized as valid. We have been given a platform as well.  Each of us has the right to insist that others agree – that is, unless our opinions do not conform to the accepted narrative. We recoil at the real or perceived violation of our preferences or moral standard, and are offended when others dare to have conflicting opinion or behavior. Independence is our king!

At present there is less and less agreement on common standards of behavior and opinion. Conflict is inevitable as wills clash and compete. Not comfortable with the free expression of thought, many insist rather than persuade. My rights are more important than yours and must be recognized and ratified as such. Opposing opinion has become ‘unsafe’, and dialogue is dying. Shouting replaces discussion, and disrespect in word or action is permissible and even preferable. Our ‘enlightened’ culture demonstrates that this is a recipe for social unrest, hatred and conflict. Even friends and family have difficulty talking through opposing solutions to an agreed upon issue. Everyone is a king!

I submit that we need a different monarchy – one in which Jesus is our liberating King. Doesn’t that sound like a contradiction – subjecting ourselves to a king actually freeing us? An unlikely scenario appears when the subject of kingship comes up in the life of Jesus. He stood bound, beaten, abused, His authority mocked with a crown of thorns. Yet He answered Pilate in the affirmative that He was indeed a King. What was obscure to Pilate (and the world in general) is embraced by His followers, that this Man is indeed King – of the entire creation, things seen and unseen. Allegiance to Him ensures suffering, marginalization, and rejection. His Kingship of us demands humility, selflessness, otherness, and perseverance. As we see Him standing vulnerable before a paltry Roman authority, refusing to resist and lash out, we see all too clearly what it means to our own personal autonomy to be His follower. To follow this King means death to self-will and domination of others. No more asserting our rights and preferences over others. No more insisting and diminishing others. That is certainly a blow to our independence! He laid aside all of His rights – every one of them truly legitimate, and calls us to follow. His path is our path, but few choose it. Surprisingly, however, that very choice frees us from the tyranny or our destructive self-will and frees us to prefer what is truly good for ourselves and our fellow humans. Love! That submitting choice restores the dignity of the human heart by giving it back to its intended owner – the One Who created it for friendship.Those who make this choice may be dismissed and overlooked by this age, but When His kingdom is revealed they will be honored by the very King of the Universe Himself, and admired by beings which live now only in our imagination. Freedom!!

Bonus thoughts from a master thinker (not me):
“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.
Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

C. S. lewis – The Case for Christianity

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