Putting "Freedom" in Perspective
Freedom to Love the Lord and Love Others
One of the “privileges” that we enjoy in our great country is “freedom.” Freedom of speech, freedom to worship publicly, freedom to have a certain sense of autonomy, and to pursue happiness as individuals along with our families. Each of us as Americans enjoy this freedom and ought to have a profound sense of gratitude for what God has provided for us here in this country. Many courageous individuals in the history of our country have given their lives so that we might have this freedom. I have traveled to many places where such freedom is either unheard of or at some point in that nation’s history was ripped away violently from them. We should give thanks every day for this undeserved privilege.
And yet, as Christians we must put our freedom in perspective. As born again Christians, “freedom” is not the right to say whatever we want to say, regardless of how it impacts others around us, or the right to be selfish and self-serving in the pursuit of our own goals or agendas, irrespective of the needs of others. Galatians 5:1 says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Those who are in Christ have been set free! Free from what? From slavery to sin and the consequences of our sin. We must stand firm in this freedom accomplished by our Savior, and not subject ourselves to things that rob Christ of His sufficiency.
But a few verses later Paul “regulates” this freedom by saying the following,
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Gal 5:13-14).
Our freedom in Christ is not for self-indulgence or for selfish living (“an opportunity for the flesh”), but for the purpose of loving others. Moreover, we who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, more than anyone else on this earth, have been given the profound and supernatural ability to love people in the most authentic, genuine manner.
As we see the turmoil in our country, and people using their “freedom” for the sake of stirring the pot, causing dissension, and, at times, being explicitly hateful toward one another, we must remember that our freedom as Christians is for the purpose of holiness and the pursuit of loving others as Christ has loved us. It is a freedom that shows itself in the self-sacrificial giving of ourselves for the good of others. It is a freedom to love deeply, tenderly, and in action. It is a freedom that prior to coming to know Christ we knew very little about. We simply heralded our “right” to think, speak, and act as our selfish desires dictated. Now, in the Gospel, our thinking is “reoriented” so that we are free to love the Lord and love others, as we have been loved. In this way we can “display the Gospel.”