Galatians 5:1 (NLT) So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
What is Freedom? How important is Freedom? Are things like personal safety or comfort more practical than Freedom? Do we care about Freedom? Or, are we only concerned with our freedom?
I must confess, I am often unconcerned with freedoms that I do not personally need. Of course, eventually, the need for a freedom that has been lost will arise. And, then I am concerned.
Most often it’s just an annoyance, but there are times that people need help. If there is a law or policy that will not allow it, it is illegal to help. When policies and laws keep us from doing the right thing something is wrong.
One sad reality that was evident even in Jesus’ day, was that we often make laws to accomplish things that are wrong. Jesus accused the Pharisees of using man-made laws to break God’s command of honoring one’s parents. (Mark 7:8-13) In a world that has more laws than anything, I often wonder that their purpose is less than noble.
But, I can be cynical at times.
How did we get here? Here are a few federal crimes to get this into perspective. It is a crime to ride a moped into Fort Stewart (Army Base, GA) in shorts. If your dog scares the wildlife in a national park, you committed a federal crime. The sale of onion rings that resemble, well, onion rings is illegal. If said onion rings are actually made of diced onions. To do so without saying so will make you a person of interest with the FBI. Welcome to the land of the free.
Harvey Silverglate argues that Americans are committing felonies on a daily basis in his book “Three Felonies A Day”. His point is that we have created a legal morass that can arbitrarily capture anyone it wants. That’s not freedom, that is a recipe for tyranny. What are we going to do about it? Can we do anything about it?
Yes, we can. We could work diligently to change the direction of our various government influences. That is the first thought many have.
But, I don’t think it’s the best place to start. I believe that if we are to be free, we must prepare for freedom. We must become the kind of people that can handle the responsibilities of freedom.
This applies to freedom in its many forms. Spiritual, emotional, political, and personal freedom are all primarily matters of personal responsibility. We must take responsibility for our freedom. Until we do, we will continue to have some “version” of freedom imposed upon us. And, of course, we will be told to like it, as well.
So, throw on some blue paint, and cry, “FREEDOM”. (Yes, a “Braveheart’ reference) It’s time to fight for freedom. But… If we are to be free, we must consider a few beliefs that chain us.
We Believe Our Personal Freedom Is More Important Than The Freedom Of Others
Until we personally experience the pain of lost freedoms, we tend to ignore them. But, it is important to stand for the freedoms of others. It is critical that we value freedoms that may not be that important to us personally.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
It’s natural that we are primarily concerned with ourselves, but we are not here to live “natural” lives. We are here as representatives of Jesus.
Jesus came to set people free. We have been freed by Christ, and we should all be freedom fighters. Freedom must be very important to us.
Of course, spiritual freedom in our primary concern. We want everyone to be free from sin, the condemnation of the law, and from death. But, once your heart is free, hope is born that every aspect of life could also be free.
So, everyone’s freedom is important. If we really begin to think that way, it will change the way we deal with the dilemmas of our day. So much “weaponized” news could be defused if freedom-loving people took the time to understand the concerns. If we could seek to understand, we would exert a blessed influence upon our culture.
I pray that one day we will give up on memes as a way of communicating our beliefs and opinions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if we made sure we were informed before we even formed an opinion?
What if real love doesn’t take away someone’s voice, but rather chooses to listen?
We Believe Freedom Is About What We Want.
Is freedom the ability to do anything I want? Does that belief even make sense? Suppose I want your car. Am I free to take your car? (BTW, what kind of car do you have? Just Kidding!)
What if Freedom is a tool to assist us in doing what is good and right? What if our personal freedom is just as much for others as it is for ourselves.
Galatians 5:17 (NLT) The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Freedom is FOR righteousness. It is not freedom when it uses others. When we oppress or silence others, that is not the work of freedom. It is not the work of those who have been redeemed by the light to cast shadows.
Freedom builds. When someone is free to build a business, they are using their freedom to build something. Their freedom may create jobs. They are free to hire, train, and empower a workforce. They are free to grow as a leader and entrepreneur. They are free to make their community stronger and better.
Freedom honors. So many use their microphone in life to criticize and complain. But, we don’t have to grumble. We could choose to appreciate and honor. We are free to commend the good things that we see in our leaders and the outreaches of our communities. We are free to use honor as a building block for our great cities.
Freedom rescues. There are many problems in our world. Many suffer. There are plenty of sick, broken, and hurting people. We are free to do something about it. We are not waiting for government programs. We can do something. We are free to do something. This leads me to the last belief I’d like to discuss today.
We Believe Our Society’s Problems Are Not Our Problems
Our society has real issues today. It always has. Until Jesus returns to establish His physical rule upon the earth, that will not change. BUT, the fact that difficulties will persist is no reason to ignore them.
It is easy to pass judgment on people. Effort is required to get involved and informed. And, Christians need to make the effort. Of course, you can’t get involved in every challenge society faces. But, you can get informed and make a difference in a challenge. Or, maybe you could help with a few challenges.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT) Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. 9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 24:12 (NLT) Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.
The problems our society struggles with have become indictments against us. We should not rely solely upon our government for answers. We must not run into knee jerk laws that only move the problem elsewhere. We need to and we can do something.
What If… It Is Our Responsibility To Solve Our Society’s Problems. What if “We, The People…” are responsible to directly help others? What if the solutions come from our creativity, our efforts, and our wallets?
I would call that real freedom. We are free to act, to help, and to make a difference.
I have found that when we get involved, we experience joy. We also get satisfaction and real answers become apparent. Real answers that don’t require an attorney or politician, I might add.
But, all of this hinges upon one idea. The idea of personal responsibility as a foundation stone for a free society. When I take responsibility for me and for my neighbor good, even great, things can happen.