A Balanced Freedom
Pastor Randall Floyd
Clayton A/G – Church for the REST of Us!
Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. The very thing we celebrate on July 4 every year here in the good ol’ USA. We flaunt the fact that our ancestors fought and won a war to grant us the freedom to do “our thing” for the most part. You’re even free to break the law, if that is your desire. What “freedom” does not grant you is the right to avoid the consequences of your “free” actions.
John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Just as the Declaration of Independence declared our nation’s freedom on July 4, 1776, so the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ declared humanity’s freedom from sin. But we must be careful about how we use our double-edged freedom.
Many of the issues facing us as Americans today are a direct of result of our love for “freedom”. While we believe that the Founding Fathers established our many freedoms with the idea that “common sense” would be utilized in using them, too many today are running “hog-wild” in their use of these freedoms, demanding their “rights” without also exercising their “responsibility”.
As terrible as this is in the civil life, it is even more devastating when it becomes true in the spiritual realm. Paul warned of this many times in his epistles:
1 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 5:13, and 1 Peter 2:16 all speak to the one thing that is proving to be a reality more and more in the Church today, especially in the good ol’ USA. That fact is that we are too quick to proclaim our “freedom in Christ” no matter who it hurts. Even more prevalent is our notion that “freedom in Christ” is a viable excuse to disobey government edicts we don’t agree with. Which leads to another directive expressed by Jesus, Paul, and Peter:
Luke 20:25-26 (NASU) – And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Romans 13:1-7 – Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
1 Peter 2:13-17 – 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
While it is true there may come a time, and perhaps sooner than we realize, that we WILL have to decide between the law of God and the law of man – let’s not use our “freedom in Christ” as an excuse to disobey the laws of our government just because the don’t suit us, or we find them inconvenient for the way we want to live our lives.
What I’m really trying to say to each of us today is: celebrate your dual freedom – as an American AND as a Christian; but balance it with the one thing that makes it TRUE freedom – responsibility for your behavior, actions, and decisions.