Beyond Freedom

Freedom is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

When I was in grad school, I studied freedom. I looked at it from various angles. However, every angle was from the point of view of an adolescent, privileged, white guy. Viktor Frankl, whom I had read as an undergraduate, was a Jewish psychotherapist who studied freedom from within a Nazi concentration camp.

Privileged, white, adolescent guys lived for freedom. We hated the other side of the coin Frankl discusses–responsibleness. I wonder how many of us Baby Boomers still around continue to harbor those feelings.

Jesus talked about freedom. I was puzzled. Then I realized–he meant freedom from a social system that was built upon following rules. And those who studied the rules could play the power game of “gotcha” over those who merely were trying to survive until another day. It was something like someone said in a movie or novel once, “I practice the Golden Rule; he who has the gold makes the rules.”

Paul wrote an entire letter on this topic. The letter to the Galatians is all about freedom. Throwing off the shackles of the old Laws (rules) left you free to live in the Spirit.

Living in the Spirit is freedom. It is also responsibility. We are responsible to love God and to love our neighbor as ourself.

You don’t get either/or. You get both/and as a follower of Jesus.

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