What does freedom mean?

“…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” [NIV John 8:36]

In this passage of scripture we reflect on the question “What does freedom mean?”

Today so often there are those who continue to define freedom in political terms. We may do the same, or we may add material terms — wealth to buy what we want — or temporal terms — time to do what we want — or relational terms — persons to enjoy as we want. Yet all of these definitions still fall short of the spiritual condition Jesus speaks of: “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” and so is not free.

 [NIV John 8:34]

What can the gospel promise of freedom in Christ, or possibly offer to the self-made man or woman of the twenty-first century? In a culture that constructs freedom as independence — from responsibility, relational obligation, even mortality — how can we identify with and embrace the mutual dependence that Christian freedom describes?

The truth is as Christians we are simultaneously free from all things — that is, no one can determine our future with God — and yet we are bound not to stuff but to service to all persons — committed to their wellbeing and advancement.  And so “freedom is freedom from precisely the need to justify and establish ourselves on our own.”  At the same time, Christian freedom is freedom for life in relationship with God and each other because we believe we have been created for just such relationships and cannot be either whole or free apart from them.

It may seem a long road from freedom as self-reliance and independence to freedom as a spiritually nourishing and life-giving mutual dependence, but that is the road we are set upon, the road that began back at Jerusalem, and now runs right along-side congregations everywhere.  If we keep walking, knowing that Jesus himself walked this path and invites us to follow, we will joyfully proclaim the promise as true that, “…if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

May your dependence on Christ Jesus strengthen your faith journey.


Rev. Lurecie M. Stokes