Tim Keller

Think of freedom. Think of blessedness. Freedom. What is freedom? Look at how freedom exists out in the world anywhere. If you want to fly, look at how airplanes fly. How do airplanes fly? Because somebody obeyed the laws of aerodynamics. Somebody built the plane in just such a way and shaped it in such a way and the pilot flies it in such a way so the air pressure underneath it is heavier than the air pressure above.

I don’t understand how it works. It’s incredible every time I get on an airplane. I say, ‘This will never get off the ground. Tons and tons of metal. It’s ridiculous to think this will ever fly,’ but it does because someone fastidiously obeyed certain laws.

What about sailing? I wish I could sail. How do you know the freedom of sailing? First of all somebody built the boat and obeyed the rules of the wind so the keel has to be at a certain ratio to the mast height. Then the sailor has to obey the laws of the wind. When you submit to the laws of the wind and submit to the laws of the design of the boat, when the sailor submits to the design of the boat, the power of the tide and the wind belong to the boat, right?

Now hear this. What is freedom? Freedom is doing what you were designed to do. It’s obeying your own design. ‘Well,’ somebody say, ‘that makes no sense at all. As far as I know, freedom is doing what you want.’ Let’s go with that definition for a while. Do you realize that’s okay to say? Freedom is doing what you want, but would you please admit how many conflicting wants you have?

I have two wants that are constantly butting heads against each other. I want ice cream. I want all the ice cream in the world. I want to be healthy and slender. Now which desire, which want is a liberating one? You tell me. Well the liberating one will be the desire that checks out with my physical nature.

Right now some of you know you ought to forgive somebody. You’re having a quarrel with somebody, and you ought to go and say, ‘I was wrong.’ There is a desire in you to go make it straight. But every time you even get close to it, there is another desire that says, ‘Don’t you dare. Look what she has done to you. It’s true you started it, but she finished it. Let her come to you.’ Which of those two desires should you obey? Which one will liberate you? Which one checks out with your nature?

My friends, it is true that freedom is doing what you want, but the Bible says it’s not as simple as that. Freedom is when you fulfill your deepest longings. You were built, the Bible says, for Jesus. He is the Alpha and the Omega. You were built to serve him. Only the creator who built you and knows your body, knows your brain, knows your heart, and knows your relationships can tell you, can help you sort out which of those desires are liberating ones and which are not.

Do you know the liberty of obedience, friends? Do you know the freedom that comes from having Jesus Christ as your prophet? He brought you the words, and in the Spirit he comes to you and helps sort through (if you’re a Christian) which of your desires to ditch and which of your desires to hold on to. He sorts through these things, and he helps you to change. He refines you. You become who you are designed to be. That’s freedom.

Freedom is when you’re obeying your design, and only your designer, only the owner’s manual right here can tell you what you’re designed to do. Only the designer who can speak to you can sort out all those conflicting desires and tell you which ones are liberating one and which ones are enslaving. Yeah, freedom is doing what you want … what you really want, what you really at the deepest level long for.

– Tim Keller

*Words found in Tim Keller’s 1989 Sermon, “Christ Our Prophet”