Ken’s Thursday Blog
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This weekend, we celebrate our freedom as a nation. This freedom came at no small price. The price was significant as men and women gave their lives because they believed in this freedom. The agony of that victory came with its issues of determining what was right and what was wrong. The authors of our constitution stated so eloquently, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Liberty! Freedom! Powerful, indeed. Even 224 years later, these words ring like bells of hope and celebration.
I celebrate the freedom that we enjoy in this nation. Seriously, we are blessed with a freedom that so much of our world does not possess or embrace. Of all people, we should humbly celebrate the fact that we are recipients of such freedom. But as we celebrate, I also remind us about the abuse of freedom.
Interestingly, John Adams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s second president, declared, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” That is a fascinating statement. Our forefathers believed that freedom existed among individuals who could be trusted with its responsibilities and duties.
Notice that our forefathers considered freedom as a responsibility. Betty Luceigh wrote, “Perhaps it’s time for deeper discussions of freedom. Perhaps some have taken for granted that to be in a free country means we can say and do whatever, whenever, wherever, and to whomever we want. Perhaps we need to be informed or reminded that freedom is coupled with personal responsibilities. Freedom must never be isolated from those responsibilities and become a misguided excuse for despicable behavior in speech or action” (Psychology Today, October 29, 2018).
To put this in my words, I have a car that allows me to travel at 120 miles per hour (don’t ask me how I know that!). However, while my vehicle provides that ability or freedom, it is not responsible behavior. I endanger the lives of my passengers and others on the road with such reckless behavior. The car has the gas that it needs, and the car has the ability, and I own the car. I have the freedom to drive it any time I want. But to be responsible means driving within limits to protect others (as well as myself).
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia, “You were called to freedom, brothers, and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses but serve each other through love” (Galatians 5:13). The Apostle Peter also reiterated the same theme in his writing. In the early New Testament Church, people celebrated the new freedom that came to them in Christ Jesus. It was a welcome reprieve from the burdensome law to which they had been subjected. Plus, this new relationship with God through Christ offered a relief from the bondage of sin and death. Talk about freedom, there is incredible freedom in Christ Jesus, and they did not even pay the price for that freedom. Jesus did.
It is valid for us today. We enjoy freedom in Christ that we did not pay for, but Jesus did. Paul and Peter’s concern was that we not use that God-given freedom to indulge our selfish impulses or a cover-up to do or say anything we want. Christ calls us to responsible freedom, remembering that we are to serve each other through love. Paul also reminds us in his letter to the Church at Corinth “I have the freedom to do anything, but not everything is helpful” (I Corinthians 6:12).
We have been set free by Christ from sin and death, as well as from condemnation and our past. But we have been set free to serve Christ and to love and serve each other.
President Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” That is true for America even today. It is also true for the Church. If the Church falters in this generation, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Friends, we are called to freedom, responsible freedom. So, celebrate this weekend, freedom as citizens and residents of this great nation. But also celebrate as a people whose citizenship is the kingdom of God. With all joy, peace, and grace, celebrate responsibly.