What is freedom?

070 what freedom isRecently we visited our daughter and her family. In an article I read the sentence: "Freedom is not the absence of compulsion, but the ability to renounce love for one's neighbor" (Factum 4 / 09 / 49). Freedom is more than the absence of constraints!

We've already heard some sermons on freedom, or have already studied this topic myself. The special thing about this statement for me, however, is that freedom is associated with renunciation. Just as we imagine freedom in general, it has nothing to do with renunciation. On the contrary, bondage is equated with renunciation. We feel limited in our freedom when we are constantly ordered by constraints.

This sounds like something in everyday life:
"You have to get up now, it's almost seven o'clock!"
"Now this must be done!"
"Have you made the same mistake again, have not learned anything yet?"
"You can not run away now, you hate you!"

We see this pattern very clearly from the discussion Jesus had with the Jews. Now Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him:

"If you remain in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Then they answered him, "We are Abraham's posterity, and have never served as servants to any; How can you say: you will be free? Jesus answered them, "Verily, verily I say to you, every one who does sin is a servant of sin. But the servant does not stay in the house forever, but the son remains in it forever. So if the Son has set you free, then you will really be free "(John 8,31-36).

When Jesus began to speak of freedom, his listeners immediately drew a line to the situation of a servant or a slave. A slave is the opposite of freedom, so to speak. He has to give up a lot, he is very limited. But Jesus distracts his listeners from their image of freedom. The Jews thought that they had always been free, and at the time of Jesus they were a land occupied by the Romans and had often been under foreign rule before and even in slavery.

So what Jesus meant by freedom was something quite different from what the audience understood. Slavery has some similarities to sin. He who sins is a servant of sin. Those who want to live in freedom must be freed from the burden of sin. In this direction, Jesus sees freedom. Freedom is something that comes from Jesus, what he enables, what he conveys, what he achieves. The conclusion would be that Jesus himself embodies the freedom that he is absolutely free. You can not give freedom if you are not free yourself. So if we better understand the nature of Jesus, we will also understand freedom better. A striking passage shows us what the fundamental nature of Jesus was and is.

"Such a mind dwells in all of you, as it was in Christ Jesus, for though he possessed God's form (divine nature or nature), he did not regard being equal to God as a forcible robbery (inalienable, precious possession) No, he divested himself (of his glory) by assuming the form of a servant, entering fully into human beings and being invented as a human in his physical condition "(Pilipper 2,5-7).

An outstanding feature of Jesus' nature was his renunciation of his divine status. He "divorced" himself from his glory, voluntarily renouncing this power and honor. He has taken away this precious possession and that is precisely what has qualified him to be the Redeemer, one who frees, who liberates, who makes freedom possible, who can help others to freedom. This renunciation of a privilege is a very essential feature of freedom. I had to deal with this fact more deeply. Two examples from Paul helped me here.

"Do not you know that those who run in the racetrack are all running but that only one person receives the prize for winning? Are you running now in the way that you get it, but everyone who wants to take part in the competition is lying down Abstinence in all relationships, those to receive a transitory wreath, but we an imperishable "(1, Corinthians 9,24-25).

A runner has set a goal, and he wants to achieve that. Also we are involved in this run and there is a renunciation necessary. (The translation hope for all speaks in this passage of renunciation) It is not just about little renunciation, but about "austerity in all relationships". Just as Jesus has renounced a great deal in order to be able to pass on freedom, so we too are called upon to renounce much, so that we too can pass on freedom. We have been called to a new way of life leading to an imperishable wreath that will last forever; to a glory that will never end or pass away. The second example is closely related to the first one. It is described in the same chapter.

"Am I not a free man, am I not an apostle, have I not seen our Lord Jesus, are you not my work in the Lord, have we apostles not the right to claim food and drink?" (1, Corinthians 9, 1 and 4).

Here Paul describes himself as a free man! He describes himself as one who has seen Jesus as one who acts on behalf of this liberator and who also has clearly visible results to show. And in the verses that follow, he describes a right, a privilege, which he, like all other apostles and preachers, that he earns his living by preaching the gospel, that he is entitled to an income from it. (Verse 14) Paul, however, has renounced this privilege. Through this renunciation, he has created a space, so he felt free and could call himself a free man. He had become more independent through this decision. He has enforced this rule with all communities except the community in Philippi. He has allowed this community to provide for his physical well-being. But in this section, we now find a passage that looks a bit strange.

"For if I preach the message of salvation, I have no reason to boast about it, for I am under duress, and if I did not proclaim the message of salvation, it would be a pity!" (Verse 14).

Paul, as a free man, speaks here of a compulsion, of something he had to do! How was that possible? Has he seen the principle of freedom unclear? I think rather that he wanted to bring us closer to freedom through his example. Let's read further in:

"Because only if I do so voluntarily, I have (claim to) wages, but if I do it involuntarily, it's just a steward's office, with whom I'm entrusted." So what is my reward? as a publisher of the message of salvation, he offered them gratuitously, so that I did not make use of my right to preach the message of salvation, for although I am free of all men, I have made myself a servant to most of them But all this I do for the sake of the message of salvation, so that I too can gain share in it "(1, Corinthians 9,17-19 and 23).

Paul was commissioned by God, and he knew perfectly well that he was being committed by God to do so; he had to do it, he could not sneak away in this matter. He saw himself in this task as a steward or administrator without claim to pay. In this situation, however, Paul has gained a free space, he saw despite this compulsion a large room for freedom. He refrained from compensation for his work. He even made himself a servant or slave. He adapted to the circumstances; and the people to whom he proclaimed the gospel. By renouncing compensation, he has been able to reach many more people. The people who heard his message clearly saw that the message was not an end in itself, enrichment or deceit. From the outside, Paul may have looked like someone who has been under constant pressure and obligation. But inside Paul was not bound, he was independent, he was free. How did that happen? Let us return for a moment to the first scripture we have read together.

"Jesus answered them," Verily, verily, I say to you, every one who does sin is a servant of sin, but the servant does not remain in the house forever, and the son remains in it forever. "(John 8,34-35) ,

What did Jesus mean by "house" here? What does a house mean to him? A house provides security. Let us remember the statement of Jesus that in his father's house many apartments are being prepared for the children of God. (John 14) Paul knew that he was a child of God, he was no longer the servant of sin. In this position, he was safe (sealed?) His renunciation of compensation for his task brought him much closer to God and the security that only God can convey. Paul was very committed to this freedom. The renunciation of a prerogative was important to Paul, because he gained divine freedom, which showed itself in the security of God. In his earthly life, Paul experienced this security and thanked God again and again and in his letters with the words "In Christ" pointed out. He knew profoundly that divine freedom was only possible through Jesus' renunciation of his divine state.

A renunciation of love for one's neighbor is the key to the freedom that Jesus meant.

This fact must become clearer to us every day as well. Jesus, the apostles and the first Christians have left us an example. They have seen that their renunciation will draw wide circles. Many people were touched by the renunciation of love for others. They have listened to the message, they have accepted the divine freedom, because they have looked into the future, as Paul put it:

"... that she herself, the creation, will be freed from the bondage of transitoriness to the (freedom of participation) freedom which the sons of God will possess in the glorying state, for we know that the whole creation is yet Everywhere sighs and waits with the pangs of a new birth, But not only she, but also we ourselves, having already the Spirit as firstfruits, sigh also within ours in waiting for (the revelation) of sonship, namely, the redemption of our life "(Romans 8,21-23).

God grants his children this freedom. It is a very special share that God's children receive. The renunciation of God's children from charity is more than compensated for by the security, the calm, the serenity that comes from God. If a person lacks this sense of security, then he seeks independence, disembarkation disguised as emancipation. He wants to decide for himself and calls that freedom. How much evil has been born of it. Suffering, distress and emptiness that has arisen from a misunderstanding of freedom.

Like newborn children, crave the sensible, unadulterated milk (we could call that milk liberty) so that you would grow up to blessedness through it, if you felt differently, that the Lord is kind, come to Him, the living stone, the rejected by men, but chosen before God, is precious, and let yourself be built up like living stones as a spiritual house (where this security comes to bear), to a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices (that would be renunciation ) who are pleasing to God through Jesus Christ! " (1, Petrus 2,2-6).

If we seek divine freedom, we grow in that grace and knowledge.

Finally, I would like to quote two sentences from the article from which I found the inspiration for this sermon: "Freedom is not the absence of constraints, but the ability to renounce love for one's neighbor. Who defines freedom as an absence of coercion, denies the human being the peace of rest and programs disappointment.

by Hannes Zaugg


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