by Jason Wilde
For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. (Galatians 5:13)
We are given many freedoms in this life. In fact, you could say that we are free to do anything we want. If I want to say something, I can open my mouth and say it. If I want to tear down a tree, there is nothing that stops me from doing so. If I want something I don't have, I can go and strike someone who has one and take it from them. It's really amazing, all these freedoms we're given!
But these freedoms, if not kept in check, will eventually result in chaos. This is because our flesh wants us to desire, dominate, and survive. God created us with these freedoms knowing that they could be our undoing, but He also provided His guidance.
And so we are given laws that enable or discourage some freedoms. Some laws are from God's covenant with man, others are from governmental principalities, and still others come from our culture and the way people 'normally' act. God's law is simple - to love Him and each other. If you do something that does not lead to loving Him or your neighbor, than it is against His law. Beyond this, all other humanly laws limit freedoms that God has given us. Even a worldly law that agrees with God's law will not prevent sin, as Ben Sirach tells us, "Like a eunuch lusting to violate a young woman is the one who does right under compulsion." (20:4)
On the contrary, God's law does not limit our freedom, but demands that we "serve one another through love." In this one calling, it actually frees us from the things of the world that enslave us - houses, clothing, food, addictions, mindless entertainment, boundaries, governments, social and political associations, cultural norms, or anything that keeps us from loving one another. No law of this world can actually provide freedoms in the way that God's law does. If you claim a freedom to speak and then use it to cut down, gossip, or spread hatred, then you are a slave to anger and revenge. If you claim a freedom to pray but use it to discriminate against others, then you are a slave to pride. If you claim a right to own property but refuse to share it with someone in need, then you are a slave to greed. If you claim a right to security but fail to open your door to the oppressed, then you are a slave to selfishness. If you claim a right to possess weapons that are designed to kill humans, then you are a slave to fear. All of these so-called 'freedoms' are still bound by God's Law.
And then there are laws that are contrary to freedoms provided by God's law. No institution of man is immune from creating these laws because we are all sinful. But we must recognize these laws and actively fight them, lest we become guilty of the evils these laws create. Most commonly, these laws are used to attack the most vulnerable who are not represented and have no voice - a non-citizen, a convicted person, an unborn child, or the poor. Recently, we have come across laws that prohibit direct charity to the homeless, for example. But there are also many laws which do not explicitly attack anyone but still harm and erode the dignity of humanity, of a person's ability to provide for a family, or to seek a better way of life. Our economy and social structures do a lot of this on their own without written laws, but when a government uses its own power to enact restrictions instead of protecting the most vulnerable, it becomes a god, swaying the wills and minds of politicians and voters to believe that some people are not valued.
On a day where worldly freedoms are openly celebrated, remember that the only true freedom comes from God Himself who calls us to use it to serve one another through love, for "the whole law is fulfilled in one word, namely 'you should love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Gal 5:14)
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.