Chinese Church Voices

Your Freedom Is Not My Kind of Freedom

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

I was chatting with a friend a while back, and the friend said, “If only I can work hard and achieve financial freedom! Then I can take a break and do whatever I want.” I asked what he meant by financial freedom. He explained that it was having sufficient savings in the bank, so that one did not need to worry about money, and having several properties, where he could live in one, and rent out a couple. Then he could lie back, and whatever he felt like doing, he could do. If he wanted to go traveling, he’d go traveling. If he wanted to try something out, he could buy it. He could live free and carefree.

Whenever I discuss the meaning of freedom with friends, most friends share this basic understanding: that freedom is being able to do whatever one wants, without interference from others. It is when I get the final say, when my body is my choice, when I get the final say in all my affairs, and other such sundry answers. It is as if only arrogant egotism is true freedom.

Slowly I came to understand that we were not discussing the same idea of freedom but were talking past one another. It was like discussing colors with someone who was colorblind. You might say red, and he would very sincerely tell you that red was indeed very pretty, but the red I was talking about and the red he was talking about were not the same.

I have been wanting to discuss my understanding of freedom, but I had still been contemplating what true freedom meant. I have also discussed with many people how to define true freedom, but we never settled on an accurate answer because the distance between our understandings was too vast. Perhaps it was because of our different backgrounds, different levels of education, race, or religion, but our understandings of freedom are truly diverse and myriad!

There is actually a standard answer to the meaning of freedom. I often contemplate the question when reading the Bible, and so made some comparisons between what the Bible says about freedom and what the world says about freedom. I came to some interesting answers, and perhaps this would be encouraging to others to redefine the meaning and value of freedom!

The first time I read the Bible, I came to John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I was shocked! And I suspect many people would also feel shocked like I did on their first time reading this verse. Truth will get me freedom? Is this true? This is truly one of the most powerful sentences I have ever read. But when I slow down and think about it, if indeed truth can set me free, then what is truth? When I continue reading the passage, I think I have a basic understanding. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” So Jesus can set me free. That means that Jesus is the truth. This was the beginning of my understanding of truth and freedom in the Bible.

In 2 Corinthians 3:17 it says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” From this verse we can clearly see that the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So I realized that my friends did not understand the Bible. Or perhaps one should say that because they had not read the Bible, their understanding of freedom was skewed.

Romans 6:14–15 says, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!”  

After reading these passages, we can see that only by accepting Jesus can we know the truth and accept the truth, and only then can we be free, and live above the law and under grace. On the other hand, if we do not know Jesus, and do not accept the freedom of Jesus, but continue living in the so-called freedom under the law, then we are simply taking joy in our sin. This is not the true freedom of the Spirit.

Reading these passages helps us clearly see that the freedom we speak of, is the true freedom found only in Jesus Christ. It is the freedom of the Spirit, not the freedom of indulging the flesh. But the freedom that my friends spoke of is indeed indulging the flesh. At this point I am sure that it is clear, your freedom is not my kind of freedom.

Editor’s note: This article was originally written in Chinese and was translated by the ChinaSource team.

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Image credit: Masjid Pogung Dalangan via UnSplash.

Liang Ren

Liang Ren (pseudonym), originally from a vibrant region in Northwest China, has a background in administration and entrepreneurship, with a focus on educational and community projects that subtly embody his Christian mission values, showcasing resilience and adaptability.View Full Bio

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