Happy Fourth of July! Today we celebrate our freedom and are grateful for those who fought both physically and intellectually to secure that freedom.
We have a good idea of what it means to be free as a nation, but what about freedom as an individual? Janis Joplin said that freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Is that it? Or does freedom mean we are not controlled by anything; we don’t rely on anything outside ourselves; or is it simply that we are free to do as we please? According to some people who think a lot about this stuff, there are six types of freedom: economic freedom, religious freedom, freedom of movement, freedom to defend yourself, political freedom, and personal freedom.
Christ, too, talks a lot about freedom. He says that he has come to set you free and in him, you are free indeed. (John 8:36) Martin Luther also writes about this in his essay, “The Freedom of a Christian.” In it, he says this:
“A Christian is a perfectly free person who is subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant who is subject to all.”
So which is it? It may seem contradictory, but Luther makes the argument that a Christian can be, and is, both.
Because of the free gift of grace, we are fully forgiven children of God who are not under the law. In other words, keeping all the rules and doing good doesn’t save us, so the “law” has no hold over us.
Of course doing the right thing is still very important but what changes is the motivation. We don’t do good works or have high moral standards because they save us. Instead, we freely do good works because the love of God naturally spills out into love for neighbor. It’s really hard to look down on others when you’ve come to understand your own flaws and failures and know you’re loved in spite of them. And we freely obey because God asks us to and obedience transforms our hearts to be more Christ-like.
That, my friends, is the freedom of a Christian. We aren’t burdened by a life lived under the weight and worry of not being good enough. We can never be enough, but Christ was enough. And his grace is free… and so are we!
Being Human connection: We were created to be free.
This is my patriotic zen doodle. Happy Fourth!
Thank you for your insights on freedom. Your zen doodle was great–I liked the way you used the words to America.
I enjoyed your musings on freedom. The one part I can’t agree upon is that we can never be good enough. I believe we were made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore we can never be any less than perfect. And I think that Jesus’s mission was to show us how to live that way, how to be what we were created to be. Freedom in that sense is knowing ourselves as God knows us, in being Christ-like. BTW – love your zen doodle!
Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry to be so slow to respond. I’ve been neglecting my blog. My response is that if we could be good enough (even perfect), then Christ would not have had to die. If his mission was only to show us how to live, the cross has no meaning. The Holy Spirit sanctifies and transforms our hearts and our motives to be more Christ-like (a new creation), but we will never get there in this broken world. Freedom, as I see it, is seeing ourselves as children of God, loved unconditionally, and gaining our identity through his love, not through our own efforts and not by worldly standards. Christ was “made to be sin for us, that we might be made right with of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our sins are only removed because of his death. We are acceptable to God not because we live a good life, but because of the death and resurrection of Christ. Then we want to do the right thing, be a good person, etc., not because it will save us but because we love the one who first loved us (fruits of the Spirit).
Thanks for the comment. Hope my reply makes sense. It’s great to have these kind of discussions! and I’m glad you like my doodle. 🙂