Let’s do a little experiment. Which of these images below would you associate with the word “freedom”?
If you are a good Christian, you probably would choose the religious imagery, knowing that for a religious vocations blog, that’s the right answer. But, honestly, how many people would pick the Cross as a picture of true freedom? Not many. Why? Because of the suffering, false accusation, and wretchedness of the Cross. Who would want that? Who would freely choose that? That would only be something that you would do if you were forced to do, or condemned to do it.
The funny thing is, Jesus freely chose to go to the Cross. As he said, “No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and the power to take it up again.” (John 10:18) On the Cross, Jesus was no victim. He was not, as some suggest, a moral teacher, social worker, revolutionary, or a dim wit, who simply was swept up by powers beyond his control to a horrible fate. No, Jesus, being God, knew what He was doing. And He chose the Cross. In fact, we could say that He was born to die for us. It was why He came into the world.
Why did Jesus do this? Because He loves us! Because He wants to save us from eternal damnation. He wanted the gates of Heaven to be open to believers. He wants us to know that there is more to life than hard work, shallow pleasures, and using others for personal gain. When we think of freedom, we think of a life with no constraints, no boundaries, no rules. The free life is something like a beer commercial – beautiful people – bumpin’ music, intoxication, VIP experiences, etc.
What if freedom is the ability to embrace even the worst fate, the Cross, because of love? What if freedom is not the capability to do whatever you want, but the ability to give away everything you have, because of love? What if freedom was more about the ability to set others free, as opposed to simply consuming what others have sacrificed to give you? Maybe the Cross is the true symbol of freedom after all…..