The Freedom of a Christian

Next week we celebrate our freedom and show our gratitude for those who fought both physically and intellectually to secure that freedom. Also this week we are not looking at some great work of art but a “zen doodle” I created a few years ago. For awhile I was into zen doodling. It’s a great way to relax and I encourage you to doodle while you relax—or not. That’s the thing about relaxing, you are free to decide how and when you do it.

Speaking of freedom and the Fourth of July, I believe 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.”

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.

Being Human connection: 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. So relax!