Dobby is a free house-elf and he can obey anyone he likes. (from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling)
Happy Independence Day, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad to have a holiday set aside to celebrate freedom. And today, I’m thinking about spiritual freedom as well as political freedom, and I am so grateful to walk in both. What I love about Dobby the house elf is that he understands something about freedom–political and spiritual–that most of us overlook. He knows that freedom doesn’t always mean doing whatever he pleases, but that it also means being willing to submit to others. I remember as a child saying the snotty refrain, “It’s a free country and I can do anything I want,” whenever another child asked (okay, rudely demanded) that I stop doing something. It was the ultimate comeback. And it was also a complete misunderstanding of freedom. Because most of the time, freedom isn’t about doing whatever we want; rather, it’s about choosing whom we will obey. That’s what our country’s founders knew when they penned the document we celebrate today. The Declaration of Independence essentially declared our ability to choose whom we will follow, and that is the root of all our freedoms. The same is true of the freedom Christ brought us. Everybody is obedient to something or someone, whether it be Christ or our own selfishness or the dark powers at work in the world or whatever. Most of us are obedient to sins that consume our lives. But Christ has set us free, not so that we can do whatever we want to, but so that we can choose who and what we will serve. That’s what freedom is. I hope you’re celebrating it today!