The Challenge Of Our Freedom
Don’t get me wrong, you won’t find someone who loves Bald Eagles, The Star Spangled Banner or capitalism more than me. I love freedom. Freedom is great. But there’s no denying that the culture of freedom that we live in can be a serious challenge to our faith.
We live in a culture that’s unlike any other in history. From childhood we’re taught that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And not only that we have those rights, but that those inalienable rights are given to us by our Creator.
And I really think that being raised with that mindset can leave us with a fundamental misunderstanding of our relationship with God. (There are lots of people who are willing to acknowledge that God exists and that He created us, but they just don’t realize what kind of relationship we have with Him.)
When Jeremiah needed to understand what man’s relationship to God was, God sent him to a potter’s house. The conversation didn’t even start until Jeremiah had witnessed firsthand the power of the potter over the clay.
Jeremiah 18:1-10—The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.
The clay has no freedom, no rights, no ability to petition for a redress of its grievances….The clay can only acknowledge that it is the creation and seek to serve the Creator.
When Paul described our relationship to God, he used the word doulos. A slave.
1 Corinthians 7:17-22—Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.
Why is it that Christ never sought to end slavery during His ministry? It’s not because he couldn’t. Or because the was worried about upsetting the societal norms. I think it’s because Christ knew that we were already slaves anyway.
It’d be akin to Christ telling everyone, “You’re free! You’re no longer a slave! By the way, you’re all slaves.”
Christ knew what what so many people today aren’t willing to acknowledge, that we’re all slaves to something. Paul tells us that being free means being a slave to righteousness.
Romans 6:17-18—But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
So what does all of this mean? Well, I think that if we change our outlook on our “freedom” and our “rights”, we’ll have a fundamentally different perspective on our lives as Christians.
If you acknowledge that you’re a slave to God, that He owns you and all that you have…does that effect your attitude towards your monetary contribution to His church?
If you acknowledge that you are the clay, you have no rights and no purpose other than to serve the Potter…does that effect a wife’s ability to submit to her husband? Or a husband’s ability to submit to God in how he governs the home? Or our ability to submit to bosses at work, regardless of how unfair or illogical they might seem at times?
When we really accept the fact that we were created to serve, rather that to be free, we can do a much better job at submitting to one another.
Today people claim that we’re “free” to produce vile, trashy movies or use filthy language. Men claim that they’re “free” to abuse the family’s finances for their own recreation. Women claim that they’re “free” to murder their unborn children. And children think they’re “free” to disrespect their parents.
But what none of those people realize is that they’re not “free” at all. They’re slaves. Slaves to the whims of their own fleeting lusts or their own selfishness or pride.
Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we’re either slaves to sin or righteousness. And that’s the good news about our lack of freedom in life. When we choose to serve God, we’re owned by someone who loved us so much that even when we were rebelling against Him, He sent His son to die for us. And that son is in Heaven now, preparing a home for us to be with Him.
This post is part of a series on Challenges To Our Faith and you can find the entire series here.