When I was a resident, I worked with a fellow resident who loved to cook. He often invited me to his home and one evening, he shared an exceptionally amazing dish with me. I raved about it and encouraged him to share it with some of the other residents. He agreed and the next day he allotted a portion in a plastic container to another resident, Jake. Jake was grateful and the next day, he returned the unwashed container to my colleague. My colleague was stunned and publicly shamed him in front of the other residents.
“Jake! What are you doing?”
Jake was confused and silently stood there.
“You don’t just return a used container after someone has prepared a meal for you. At the least, you should wash it, then return it.”
Jake stared at the floor, humiliated.
“What’s wrong with you?”
There was nothing illegal about what Jake did, but was it proper? He had the freedom to return the container in any condition he chose, and he chose the least palatable option. There are rules of etiquette, enforced by social norms. If we do not obey these rules, we may face shaming and ridicule, but it is not a crime. There are many totalitarian regimes, bent on subjugating their people to their will and eliminating any form of organized religion. There is no freedom to choose. The government is the final authority. Obedience means no freedom. In stark contrast to this is the message of God.
I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever. I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
Psalms 119:44-45 (NLT)
How can obedience lead to freedom? It seems paradoxical, even an oxymoron. This is the beauty and wonder of God! He freely offers His instructions and commands. He also gives us the freedom to follow or reject them. If we reject them, we willingly choose an eternity of separation from God and His blessings. If we choose to follow them, we gain salvation, eternal life, and receive His unlimited grace, mercy, and love. We walk in freedom when we choose to obey God.
God’s free gift came at the cost of the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He reconciled the relationship that sin ruptured between God and man. Jesus chose to do this so that we could be free to choose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.
Obedience and freedom. It is not a paradox. It is God’s gift to the world.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.