If you ask most people what it means to be free, they would probably relate freedom to their body or their human identity. A lot of people would probably say, well what else is there? But those who know that they have an identity beyond this world and their current earthly lifetime know that they have a spiritual identity that is locked up in God.
To be “locked up” in God doesn’t sound free, does it? But let’s look at it another way. Is it freedom to be locked up in attachment to something physical? Do we feel free when we believe that we cannot live without another person or that we cannot go another minute without a piece of chocolate, a cup of coffee or a cigarette, or that we simply cannot miss our favorite television show or cannot put down our cell phone? Yet most people would probably say that freedom means being able to do whatever we want, meaning to indulge our sensory pleasures.
Could it be that restricting sensory pleasures - exercising discipline - leads to true freedom? It sounds like a crazy idea. Yet can we have two allegiances at once? If our allegiance is with who we are physically and our physical body, where does that leave our spiritual identity? Where does that leave God in our life? It seems clear that God is then relegated to second place in favor of our self-indulgence (selfishness). We’ll pray after our favorite show is over. We’ll study scripture or spiritual teachings after we satisfy our craving for food, sex or some other “drug”.
What does a drug do but pacify us and take away our will? All that takes us away from God is a form of pacifying drug, a drug that dilutes our will until it is wholly without power. It’s no wonder that clearly what it takes to overcome an addiction is “will-power”. Those who overcome addiction do so because they connect with a will that is beyond the things of this world. It is not human will that we use to overcome addiction; it is God’s Will. And where is God’s Will? It is locked up within us, in our spiritual identity. That which is “locked up” within us, sets us free. Isn’t that interesting?
“Locked up” in this case means secured within us – not secured within our human form or body, but within our spiritual heart, so that even while our human self can seem limited by the things of this world, our spiritual self can be free. Let’s look at some of the things we can be free of: fear, doubt, anger, worry, lust, envy, jealousy, pride, greed and hatred. How about being free of needing outer praise, attention or acknowledgement? And what about being free from having to react negatively to what other people do or say? As funny as it may sound, it seems clear that true freedom is “locked up” in our dependency – our dependency on God and only God to fulfill our needs and desires, and to give us a sense of wholeness.
Can money buy this freedom? Most people equate freedom with having money, and it’s true that money can buy a lot of things and can make life a lot easier in many ways. Yet, money is a flow of energy. When it hits us, it magnifies who we are. Having money doesn’t make us more generous; if we are inclined to be generous, we give from what we have, no matter how little. In fact, some of the most generous people are those who have next to nothing in the way of money. Money doesn’t make us more loving. If we are loving, our hearts will overflow no matter how much is in our bank account. In fact, some of the most loving people have little or no money, while some of the stingiest, meanest people are incredibly “rich”. Are we free when we are being selfish, stingy, mean and greedy? No, we are not; we are in bondage to negativity, our ego and/or evil and therefore we are not free, no matter how much money we have.
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
Money can’t buy virtue, nor magnify a virtue that has not been developed, and it is our virtues, like faith, patience, honesty, and integrity, that set us free spiritually – and physically as well. We all know the saying that “where there is a will, there is a way”. If it is God’s Will that something happen, then God will make a way, no matter what our bank account says. Therefore, if we are obedient to God’s Will, we will be free. Here we go with another statement that sounds odd. Obedience sets us free? How could that be? Doesn’t free will mean that we can be disobedient with impunity? The answer lies in the fact that what we believe about free will may very well be a lie.