So the Sting song goes and I have been thinking a lot recently about the relationship between love and freedom. What amazes Bridget Jones is that Mr Darcy could love her just as she is and for every one of us we have a basic need to be loved and affirmed for the person we really are right now with all our faults and failures, disappointments and pain. But, it is impossible to love without freedom. No human being can be coerced into loving another. This is why God gives us free will. Even the creator of the universe cannot make the beings He has created love Him. Our Western society is obsessed with freedom and it is an individual’s right to live exactly as they choose. As demonstrations in the Middle East highlight this is not an automatic right. However, freedom on its own can be a damaging thing. It can leave us with no regard for the consequences of our actions on others and no fixed points to cling to, nothing to rely upon when relationships or institutions inevitably let us down. It can feel like endlessly falling while desperately reaching out for someone or something to stop us. This is why freedom should be exercised within certain parameters that respect our own health and well-being as well as that of others. While the world is fixated with freedom, it appears the church is preoccupied with safety. Leaders seek to protect the flock from the temptations of our contemporary culture. I would rather see Christians equipped to selectively engage with the world to reveal God’s redemptive power in creative and relevant ways. I came across a quote in a magazine this week that said, “True freedom should not be defined in negative terms – a freedom from interference. True freedom has to be about freedom for something – to become who we were made to be.” (Andy Hickford in April’s Christianity p.45) If we knew the reality of God’s healing through His unconditional love and acceptance and the church could free us to be who we are called to be, what a potent force for transformation we would each become.