July 4 is this week! We Americans are all about freedom. We love our freedom. We praise those who serve and sacrifice to protect our freedom. We honor our Constitution and the Amendments as they enshrine our freedoms. And so we should. I thank God for the freedoms we enjoy.
You’d think we might have a more seasoned and mature understanding of what freedom means. Sadly, for too many, freedom means “I can do whatever I want.” Certainly, that is what freedom means to a child being told he must get out of the pool, or that she must clean her room. But as we mature, freedom becomes a more complex thing.
In his letter to the churches of Galatia (a region in the western portion of modern day Turkey, click here for a map), Paul writes, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” (Click here for the full passage.)
Americans (as, indeed, in many other nations) in general have what Paul would consider a very self-indulgent understanding of freedom. Instead, Paul calls us to use freedom not for our own titillation but for the love of others. Indeed, Paul would argue that it is only love in Christ that leads to true freedom.
What is freedom to you? Is true freedom to be found through government, or because Jesus has made you free? What difference does that make?
This column appeared in the June 30, 2019 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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