I’ll do one more post on freedom — saving the real thing for last. You find my other posts on freedom summarized here. Now it’s time to call in the big guns — the spiritual argument.
In the Anglican liturgy of my tradition, it says that to serve God is “prefect freedom”. What?? Service? Freedom? Slavery is freedom? You bet — if we chuck out the loaded word. Service is freedom. It’s the greatest freedom you could ever imagine.
Say you’re serving drinks in a juice bar. You’re feeding your children that way, and helping your aging mother stay alive by covering her drug costs. You thank God for the freedom to serve. You wouldn’t trade it off in a million years for the “freedom” to curse at an annoying customer on a bad day. Your “positive freedom” to meet your deeper goals trumps your “negative freedom” to do whatever the hell you want whenever the hell you want — trumps that every time.
Negative freedom is not having fences to restrict you, as if you were a cow in a pasture. Positive freedom is having what you need to follow your path. That cow needs grass more than she needs no fence. That’s the kind of freedom that many people don’t even call freedom.
How much greater is the freedom to serve God. But serving God has rules — first and foremost of which is to love and serve your neighbour. Christ was the freest man on earth, but he used that freedom to wash his disciples’ feet. The only true freedom is found in service. The modern obsession with negative freedom is nothing but a flight from service — a flight from true freedom.
The liturgy goes: “O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us, thy humble servants …”.
If you’re prepared to be a humble servant, you stand to learn what freedom really is. If that seems like gibberish to you, you’re missing the insight that paradoxes dig deeper than logic.
If you just want the freedom to chase whatever silly passion moves you at the moment, you don’t have a clue what kind of pathetic slave you’ve chosen to be.
Remember that free spirit Bob Dylan — “You gotta serve somebody”.