The greatest expression of freedom

From the Declaration of Independence to the libertarian movement to the spirit of Ayn Rand that is invoked each election cycle Americans love to talk about freedom.

We like to think that the greatest expression of freedom is to do what we are allowed to do. This is often the case when I talk with some people who carry guns.

"I carry a gun because it it my constitutional right! The 2nd amendment says..."

Or when I talk with people about free speech...

"This is America and I can say whatever I want. Or have you not read the 1st amendment..."

Or even when talking with people who buy things that just do not make sense...

"Why did I buy this leopard printed toilet seat? Because I can."

Christians have long understood that these silly examples are not expressions of total freedom. When we say that we are free in Christ or that Christ has set us free for the sake of freedom, we are not talking about being able to do whatever we want "just because we can."

True freedom comes in choosing to be limited.

There is no greater expression of freedom then being able to do then choosing to not do it.

When people are taken into slavery, they are forced to work and work hard. They are not free to refrain from working nor are they free to choose when they will work and for how long. Freedom is not in what you can do but what you choose not to do.

This is what makes the spiritual practices an expression of freedom. We do not have to, lets say, fast from eating. God does not require fasting, we are free from the mandate to fast. And since we are free from this mandate, when we choose to fast, we are actually expressing the fullest extent of this freedom.

Freedom comes not in the ability to choose "to do" but in the ability to choose "not to do."