When the story that names you is too small, you need to be freed. But be careful what you ask for, there are multiple forms of freedom. You can have freedom from, but do you have freedom for? Once released from whatever binds you, what are you now free to do? You can find yourself, like in the song, rambling about with Bobby McGee singing “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” That is an extreme case of freedom from with no sense of freedom for.
In the central event of the Hebrew faith story, the Exodus, after God frees the people from the bondage of servitude in Egypt, God then expects them to be bound by the Law. The risk was that after finding freedom from that the people would not find a freedom for. Binding oneself to a set of laws comes with the risk of not finding freedom at all. Indeed, by the time Jesus came, God’s people had found many ways to be un-free. So much so, that Jesus had to remind us that the Sabbath was made for us, not we for the humanity. Jesus brought a much needed dose of freedom from. But he didn’t leave us without the call of freedom for. We are free from weighty minutia of the practice of abiding by the law and free to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Money is all too often one of those items in our lives that brings burdens. We too often find ourselves owned by the things we own, too often find ourselves trapped in debt. But this week’s guest, Tracey Halvorson, provided a freedom for vision. She repeated reminded us, as she does her clients, that “it’s not about the money, it is about the dreams that make your life larger.” When we serve those dreams that are in line with the “three great loves” (love of God, love of others, love of self) then we ironically find freedom in service.
Years ago, Bob Dylan captured that wisdom in the song Gotta Serve Somebody:
You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir.
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Brimfield, MA. He blogs about the intersection of spirituality and society at CultureDove.blogspot.com and the intersection of spirituality and ornithology at https://birdparables.blogspot.com