Americans are proud of their liberty. They should be. It didn’t come cheap. And America has set forth a standard of democracy followed now by countries all over the world.
Many leaders in our country see freedom as a privilege to be shared, not something to brag about. Peter Marshall, once chaplain of the U.S. Senate, prayed before Congress,
Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Make us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please to do what is right.
Is personal liberty something we should get excited about? It depends.
You see, liberty comes in various forms, some of which are harmful. Take, for example, those Paul referred to as “enemies of the cross”: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). Certainly these people felt they were “free” in some sense, but according to Paul, their freedom was leading to “destruction.”
Look more closely, though, at the description of these libertines. Did you notice that Paul said they had a “god”? “Their god is their belly.” In other words, they were ruled by their appetites. Whatever their animal instincts told them to do, they did. They were not absolutely free. In these individuals we find a perfect illustration of Peter’s principle: “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19).
Jesus presents a different freedom, saying, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32). Truth confines, no doubt. But through obedience to the truth we escape sin, which is dangerous to us, and find peace in God.
That may not be absolute freedom, but is anyone absolutely free? Paul said we are slaves of the one whom we obey (Rom. 6:16). You are either the slave of sin or the slave of God.
And as a slave of God, you have a freedom that you can be excited about, one that needs to be shared with others! Getting back to Peter Marshall’s words, freedom in Christ is an “opportunity.”
We may feel helpless in the face of war and politics, but we can experience the only true freedom there is, freedom through Christ. And having experienced it, we can in turn share it with someone else.