My Faith Votes | Is Freedom Overrated?


Is Freedom Overrated?

“Let my people go,” is perhaps the most well-known political statement in history. It’s about Israel being called out of slavery in Egypt. I’ve heard it a thousand times, but not until recently did I notice there’s more to it.

Every time God uses the phrase “let me people go,” it is followed with the words “...that they may serve me.”

“Let my people go that they may serve me.” Exodus 8:1

Over and over He says it in the story, and every time it is the same. “...that they may serve me.”

In this story, the children of Israel were not being freed for freedom’s sake alone; they were being freed for service in a greater cause.

Today, in this day of “my truth – my body – my choice,” if you were to ask people what the purpose of freedom is, how many would answer “to serve God” or even just “to serve?” Nearly none, I imagine. Freedom is the ability to do what you want, many would say.

Yet it is clear in the story that God didn’t free the Hebrews so that they could live the way they wanted. He freed them so that they could live the way *He* wanted. That’s a big difference.

It almost sounds un-American, but I believe this story underscores the truth that freedom is not a good goal by itself. What we do with that freedom makes all the difference in the world.

Here’s a good definition of freedom. “Freedom is both the desire and the ability to do what we ought.” Without the desire, the ability is pointless. Without the ability, the desire is frustrating. It takes both.

Consider the drug addict, freed to take drugs, or not, in a very libertarian society. Free, sure, but not really. Not while his own desire for drugs ravages his mind and body. Likewise, we are free to cheat on our spouses.

We are all free to poison all our relationships with destructive words and behaviors. Heck, some cities have even freed people to steal, as long as the value isn’t too high.

But these freedoms aren’t freedoms at all because these desires cause harm when followed. They are still Egypt.

We have lots of freedom of ability in this country. The pursuit of hedonism and pleasure is a form of freedom, but if freedom is an unconstrained forest fire, free to destroy every good thing it touches, what good is that?

Inherently, we all know we should serve something greater than ourselves, but the problem is post-modern society implicitly teaches that there is nothing greater than ourselves. Serve something greater, and there is nothing greater. No wonder people are going crazy.

The cheetah was built to run, and the eagle for the skies. The Exodus story reminds us that we humans were built for service to God. He is greater. The awesome thing about God is that He knows and loves us more and better than we do ourselves. Knowing and following Him is true freedom.

Another way to look at it is a form of voluntary indentured servitude. Not servitude to any man, but to the One who knows exactly what is best for us. Though counterintuitive, exchanging our allegiance to the god of self for the God of everything is actually an upgrade in liberty.

That explains the great paradox of Romans 6 which states that only the slaves of Christ are truly free.

Let my people go…that they may serve me.

That’s freedom worth pursuing.

Caleb Backholm is a married father of three and a small business owner. A “political nerd” since childhood, he first started publishing social and political news commentaries in the Jr. High school newspaper and has been writing ever since. He attended Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN where he studied Broadcast Communications, Biblical Studies, and History. Originally from Washington State, he currently lives in Ft. Worth, Texas and recently ran for City Council. Caleb can be reached at


My Faith Votes— is a ministry that motivates, equips, and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. An estimated 25 million Christians who are registered to vote, fail to vote in presidential elections. My Faith Votes is on a mission to change this statistic by helping Christians act on their faith and vote in every election. When we pray unceasingly for our nation, think biblically about the issues, and vote consistently in every election the impact of Christians taking action from the local to the state and federal level will be unprecedented.

Website | Twitter | @MyFaithVotes Facebook | My Faith Votes