“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15 (The Message)
As our nation celebrates its Independence Day on July 4th, we will again hear much about the importance of the freedoms we celebrate in this country. When Paul wrote to the Galatians about freedom, he was not speaking of political freedoms such as freedom of speech, press, and assembly, but he was talking about freedom from a religious practice that mandated specific ceremonies, myriad regulations, and adherence to a strict set of behavioral norms.
Now, in Christ, Paul says that we are set free. But all freedoms, whether religious or political, come with responsibilities and with the potential for harm. Both as Christians and as citizens we would do well to hear Paul’s words of caution again this July 4th. “You were called to a free life. Just be sure you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want and destroy your freedom.” We are given this freedom to be a blessing to others. And the danger of causing harm by abusing this freedom is very real. As you celebrate your freedom this year, watch that you don’t use your liberty as an excuse to say or do things that are hurtful to your neighbor, and damage the very gift we’ve been given.
Pastor John Twiton