"To want nothing is the only possible freedom." -- Matthew Fox
As a child I learned this sentence from the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These rights and others are important to us as Americans.
We are, all of us, loved by God, not because of anything we have done, or not done, but simply because he created us. He shows his love for us in many ways, but the ultimate way he showed his love for us, for all humanity, was when he came to earth as one of us to live among us and die for us. As a Christian, I am free because Jesus gave himself for me, using his freedom to secure mine.
If it really is true that I have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, how I choose to exercise those rights says a lot about who is lord of my life. If I exercise my right to live, be at liberty (not subject to anything or anyone), and pursue my own happiness, I am lord of my own life, a very American point of view. But my own self-absorption means I am not really free after all, for I am subject to my own drive for self-preservation and self-promotion. My attention is focused on securing my own safety and health, on guarding my rights so that no one takes advantage of me, and on pursuing my own happiness. The more tightly I cling to my rights, the less free I am. I am shackled to my obsession with myself.
True freedom is the freedom to be and to have nothing myself, clinging only to God and finding all my sustenance in him who created me. It is the freedom to give myself completely and totally to others because I love so much the One who created them and me. For me to be truly free, I put my need for my rights aside for the sake of others. I seek those rights for others by laying them aside for myself. Then I can live lightly, unencumbered by the need to preserve myself. When it no longer matters if I have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for myself, then I am truly free.
"Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus
who though he was by nature God
did not consider being equal to God
a thing to be clung to,
but emptied himself
taking the nature of a slave
and became as humans are
and being as all humans are
he was humbler yet
even to accepting death
death on a cross." Philippians 2:5