Freedom always confronts the individual with painful contradictions and with responsibilities that he must exercise in the face of choices and risks. The individual never likes that; he much prefers a necessary, inevitable, clear course: in this way at least no time is lost in deliberation, and there is no binding responsibility. The individual is always ready to submit to necessity, as long as freedom's vocabulary is preserved, so that he can equate his servile obedience with the glorious exercise of a free, personal choice.
I picked up Jacques Ellul's book The Ethics of Freedom again this afternoon and was skimming it to ponder some of his thoughts along with some of the things I have been thinking about. I am convinced that freedom really does scare most people and I think Ellul in his comment above describes the condition most live in. Most talk about freedom, all the while they are not free at all.
Religion shapes people to say...."Tell me what to do...define a list for me and I will do it"...and then we live in fear of wandering outside those boundries unsure of what will happen to us if we do. This is law and can never produce freedom. Conformity and rebellion are just the opposite sides of the same coin and there is no freedom to be found there. But as you will read below Ellul describes religious conformity to be the most dangerous because it produces the strongest illusion. Jesus in his telling of the prodigal son story was saying the same thing.
"Innumerable works of sociology are based on the uncritical and undemonstrated and irrational assumption of human freedom. The incurable tendency should warn us that of all the factors in human life freedom needs the most cautious handling and is the most illusory.
This is the more true because, as we have seen, man does not want to live as free man. He fears freedom but wants to say that he is free. Freedom in Christ comes under this rules too. Since the illusion of freedom constantly recurs, Christians as men continually interpret the feeblest conformity as Christian freedom, but are unable to see it in and of themselves. Indeed they are the first to fall victim to the illusion just because they know that there is a liberating love of God.
When the non-Christian accepts the illusion of being free he has no firm basis for this and so his belief is fragile and can easily be overturned. But Christians have the assurance that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Obeying human nature they quickly change this solid reference into intolerable vanity. Their fall is even greater. Since freedom leads them to this illusion shared by all, they are more effectively alienated than before they knew they were freed, for their alienation rests now on the conviction that they are free in Christ and it is thus a perversion of freedom. They are also doubly alienated, falling back under the common determinations and yet imagining that they are free in Christ. Confusion of the freedom given by God with a freedom native to man; confusion of the act of grace with nature, brings them under the bondage of an illusion of freedom."