The Freedom of Restrictions

“Modern people like to see freedom as the complete absence of any constraints. But think of a fish. Because a fish absorbs oxygen from water, not air, it is free only if it is restricted to water. If a fish is ‘freed’ from the river and put out on the grass to explore, its freedom to move and soon even to live is destroyed. The fish is not more free, but less free, if it cannot honor the reality of its nature. The same is true with airplanes and birds. If they violate the laws of aerodynamics, they will crash into the ground. But if they follow them, they will ascend and soar. The same is true in many areas of life: Freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones, those that fit with the realities of our own nature and those of the world.

So the commandments of God in the Bible are a means of liberation, because through them God calls us to be what He built us to be. Cars work well when you follow the owner’s manual and honor the design of the car. If you fail to change the oil, no one will fine you or take you to jail; your car will simply break down because you violated its nature. You suffer a natural consequence. In the same way, human life works properly only when it is conducted in line with the “owner’s manual,” the commandments of God. If you disobey the commands, not only do you grieve and dishonor God, you are actually acting against your own nature as God designed you. When God speaks to disobedient Israel in Isaiah chapter 48, He says, ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-­being like the waves of the sea’ (Isaiah 48:17–18).”

From Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor, pp. 38-39

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