Freedom — can we possibly know what it is unless it has been taken away?
Don’t we go about our day, moment by moment, unaware of our freedom until it is limited in some way?
Teens yearn for freedom from the rules and regulations of school and accompanying attendance policies. Life lived as a minor, both at home and also in the eyes of the government, may become trying for even the most patient as they seek opportunities for self-expression and exploration.
As adults, we may strain at the confines of speed limits, taxation, policies and procedures that are unpopular. In the circle of wisdom, those of mature years may feel beleaguered by questions regarding safety behind the wheel and living with or without additional caregiving.
And of course, there are individuals whose choices and decisions warrant time in prison, where multiple limitations are imposed simultaneously for the purposes of safety and security.
Wherever we may be currently in the many stages of life, we have each experienced the pain of limits on our own sense of freedom. But have we considered what the Bible says about freedom?
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians we read: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Galatians 5:13-14, NRSV).
The freedom we enjoy as believers is found in a life devoted to God. When the example of Jesus Christ as detailed in the holy scriptures becomes our focus, distractions and pettiness fall away to reveal a heart of love and humility.
How might we celebrate freedom in Christ as citizens of the United States in support of our military? We could engage a veteran, not only to hear their stories,but to offer our time and attention to one who offered their very life for us. We may look for a family impacted by military deployment and provide encouragement as they seek to maintain not only connection to their loved one in service, but also handle business at home. We could visit a veterans’ home and seek out what is needed to make a difference in the lives of those who live and work in that setting. And we, each one, can pray with gratitude for those who have given their lives that we may enjoy freedom in ours. Called to freedom and called to love each other, we acknowledge that the pain and trauma of war is something many of us have not suffered.
And for those who move through life one day at a time, burdened with internal and external scars of strife, we turn to the the Eternal One and ask, “Lord, make us instruments of Your peace. Where there is hatred let Your love increase.”