My family and I recently had the privilege of spending some time touring around Boston following a speaking appointment. Not being a city person, I had but mild anticipation. The primary goals were to expose my boys to some American history, and to have a couple relaxing days with friends. Both of those missions were accomplished.
But God, as He so often does, surprised me with an unexpected blessing and message.
That blessing and message? Freedom!
As we drove and walked from place to place, I was repeatedly confronted with this most basic longing of the soul––American, or otherwise. The famous Boston walk is called The Freedom Trail. From Lexington and Battle Road, to North Bridge and the site of Paul Revere’s capture, the whole land is steeped in the grand quest for freedom.
God made us free to be free.
The human soul longs to be free, and in this sense American history is everyone’s history. That freedom is a universal and fundamental longing is easily demonstrated. One need only grab another human being suddenly and firmly by the arm and begin to pull them somewhere, anywhere. What will happen? The person will reflexively resist, and likely will try to break free from your coercive dragging.
Why? The answer is as simple as it is human: they want to be free. In this case, free of your discourteous yanking.
Given a choice, people always prefer freedom. And when no choice is given, and the human spirit is pushed too far into the corner of coercive submission, freedom will be fought for. The colonists grew weary of England’s king and of his taxes. They felt constrained and coerced. Naturally, they resisted. Their resistance became an ideal, and that ideal became a country.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty [Freedom!] and the pursuit of Happiness.
As I walked with my family and friends along the Freedom Trail, a single Bible verse kept echoing and reechoing in my mind: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1 ESV).
Think that through for a moment. For freedom Christ has set us free. That is, the purpose of freedom is freedom. God made us to be free, first and foremost because freedom is virtuous and beautiful in and of itself. Yes, I know that God desires us to love Him supremely and our fellow man sincerely, and that this requires genuine freedom, but freedom is not merely the means to another thing––in this case, love––it is also the point itself!
God made us free to be free.
The founding fathers of the United States understood freedom could not come from a human document, be it The Declaration of Independence, The United States’ Constitution, or, later, The Emancipation Proclamation. They understood that these documents were simply articulating a deeper, more fundamental reality: that freedom is a gift (and a responsibility!) that comes from God.
Jesus came to announce and secure this freedom, which had been lost to sin, death, and Satan himself. “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Thank you Jesus for freedom, true freedom.
And for Boston.