Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the freedom, with Independence Day right around the corner.
We live in a country that provides opportunity, and that is a blessing. Living in the United States is a privilege none of us deserve. Whether we agree with our government or not, we can’t deny that living in America is one of the most blessed, comfortable places to live.
That’s not to say we should worship our country because of the blessings it offers, but it means we should worship God all the more for the blessings He’s given us through where we live, and use those blessings to further the kingdom of God, not sit back on our couch and do nothing.
In other words, we’ve been given freedom in this country. But we are not called to sit in our freedom. Sitting in freedom is like dropping a pet goldfish in the ocean and it keeps swimming in a tiny circle the size of its old fishbowl. It doesn’t make sense.
Which reminds me of the American Dream.
The American Dream is our country’s answer to the question, “What should I do with my freedom?”
We’ve all heard the stories, maybe we’ve even lived them. Someone comes to America and seizes the opportunity this country provides, making themselves wealthy or famous or successful. Or maybe they seized the opportunity to grow a family or obtain a job. Basically, they followed the dreams they weren’t able to follow in their previous home.
The American Dream is heartwarming and inspiring. And there’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams. But I also think Christians need to be careful about how the world defines freedom, and how Jesus defined freedom. There’s a critical difference.
The American Dream is fueled by the worldly perspective on freedom. And the worldly perspective on freedom is this: we have the freedom to do…
Fill in the blank. It could be “to do whatever I want.” It could be “to pursue my happiness.” It could be “to choose.” Or it could be “to be who I really am.” But typically, the world defines freedom as the ability to do what we want to do.
This perspective seems innocent on the surface, but we need to be careful about adopting this mindset. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial.” Although we have freedom, God sometimes calls us to do things we don’t want to do. Do we still have freedom? Of course. Just not worldly freedom.
If worldly freedom is the freedom to do…
Biblical freedom is the freedom from…
From sin. From conforming. From bondage. From worldly pursuits and desires. From the chains of death.
John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” As Christians, we are set free from sin and death because Jesus paid the price for it all on the cross. He laid down His life so that we could be free. And that freedom is now what defines our lives and defines our eternity. We are now freely embraced by God and accepted in heaven because the price for freedom has been paid–paid with Jesus’s death and resurrection.
So freedom looks different in Jesus’s eyes.
In the worldly definition of freedom, freedom and responsibility are separated, unrelated concepts.
But in the Biblical definition of freedom, freedom and responsibility are completely and utterly integrated. You can’t have one without the other.
Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
And 1 Peter 2:16-17 says, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
Our freedom as children of God is paired with a call to action. And our call to action is not the American Dream. Our call to action is to selflessly love and serve one another. Our call to action is to honor everyone, fear God, and respect the authorities placed over us.
That’s very different than the worldly definition of freedom.
Worldly freedom is interested in magnifying our personal agenda.
Biblical freedom is interested in magnifying God’s agenda.
So I’ve been wondering; have I been magnifying God’s agenda? Have I been using the freedom I have through Jesus Christ to love and serve those around me, to honor everyone, to fear God, to grow the kingdom of God?
Romans 16:8 says, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Are we living lives that tell the world we are slaves to righteousness? Or are we living lives that pursue the worldly definition of freedom and and glorify selfish ambition?
We celebrate freedom this weekend, and specifically the country that grants us so much opportunity. But take a moment to dwell on the true freedom you have this weekend. It is far more potent than the freedom America, and this world, grants. And the future we have as believers is far more beautiful and powerful and wonderful than any American Dream.