Parson to Person: Freedom
We who live in the United States like to remember to talk about freedom sometime near Independence Day.
In school, we read the stories of class struggles and how sometimes people’s life work was decided for them. We read of persecution for speaking an opinion against the rulers. We read of those who left behind an old system so they could worship as they saw fit.
We heard of the complaint of “taxation without representation,” and the Boston tea party.
Some of us have family stories of ancestors, persons with names, from all over the world who brought their names and our bloodlines to an unknown place where they could make a new life.
Whenever we talk about freedom, there is a lot of talk about “freedom from,” but not as much talk about “freedom to.”
The patriots wanted freedom from English rule. Teens want freedom from parental authority. Most citizens want freedom from ever-increasing taxes. Ancestors wanted freedom from oppression. Religious persons wanted freedom from persecution.
What about “freedom to?” The patriots wanted freedom to govern themselves.
Teens want freedom to decide more things. Most citizens want to spend their own earnings. Ancestors wanted freedom to build a life. Religions persons wanted freedom to worship as they saw fit.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul wrote that it is for freedom that Christ set us free.
People are slaves to sin and the rules of the law. But in discovering freedom, Paul warns us not to go back-or forward-to anything that will enslave us.
We like the idea of freedom from, as in “I don’t have to” or “I don’t have to anymore.”
But the point to the freedom that a Christian gains is freedom from sin and death, and freedom to live and to serve.
How often is the idea of freedom to worship tragically misinterpreted as freedom from worship — to the loss of the entire community!
It is easy to misunderstand the idea of freedom as freedom from rules and freedom to indulge in self-centered and self-destructive personal habits.
You already recognize the slavery that follows when those who do such things constantly worry about getting caught. That is exactly the kind of slavery Paul warned against!
It has been said that self-government without self-discipline does not work. Similarly, freedom from without a corresponding freedom to is just a shortcut back to slavery.
In Christ, we were made free for more than just to live for ourselves. We were made free to serve others and to make a contribution toward the reign of God.
Let us accept and practice the precious gift of freedom and live together as though it is costly, valuable and worthwhile, because it is.