Liberty is one of those ideas that sounds good in theory, but is difficult to practice. Many people will say they want liberty, but few will actually use it.
It takes hard work to be good stewards of our God-given rights. It requires each of us to be responsible for our actions and to make the choices that will affect the direction of our lives. This is why people tend to turn to law for guidance.
In Galatians 5:1 the apostle Paul wrote; “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (NLT)
Paul was addressing the tendency of Christians to turn to the law for guidance in how they are to live. In Christian theology one of the weaknesses of the law is that it cannot save people from sin, because once a law is broken it cannot be unbroken.
While the law cannot save, it can provide guidance. In fact, one of the benefits of the law is that it makes the world black and white. It shows people what to do and what to avoid. The law can even be expanded to bring clarification on how to keep the law.
This is one of the issues Jesus had with the Jewish religious leaders in the first century. They had expanded on God’s law to explain what it meant to work on the Sabbath, what it meant to tithe, and even how to wash your hands. The law laid everything out, so all a person had to do was follow it.
I believe the same tendency exists for political freedom. The founding generation laid the ground work for a country of limited government and personal liberty. Yet, even from the very beginning, there were people advocating for the federal government to do something: to pass a law, to intervene in state activity, or to get involved in foreign affairs. What this shows us is that it is hard work to maintain your personal liberty. The only way for that to happen is for you to truly desire to be free.
One of the issues that we face when it comes to our political freedom is that we often have little say in what happens. Voting offers us minimal protection of our liberties. Too many people believe that the majority has the mandate and therefore can set the agenda. The Constitution, which should provide the parameters for what the Federal Government can and can’t do, is ignored in favor of the “will of the people.”
What are we to do?
I believe we can do three things:
- We can pray. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 the apostle Paul wrote; “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (NLT) Why are we to pray for those in authority? We pray for them so we are able to live peaceful and godly lives. More than asking God to make them do our agenda, I think we are to pray that they will have wisdom to do what is right and that they will leave us alone.
- We can use what liberty we can. Even though the United States has become a highly regulated and taxed society, there are still opportunities for us to take advantage of liberty. This is seen in entrepreneurs as they start new business and engage in free markets. This is seen in speaking and writing about liberty. This is seen in living out your faith and sharing Jesus with those around you.
- We can educate people about liberty. One of the main problems we face is the fact that most people are ignorant about what true freedom is. As long as they have the ability to choose their career, to buy the newest gadget, to travel, and to spend their time in leisure activities they are happy. The majority of people don’t understand the amount of regulation that exists that effects their lives everyday.
Those words apply to Christians as we seek to follow Jesus and be guided by the Spirit as well as Americans as we seek to live in liberty apart from the ever growing State. It is not easy, and in the case of our political freedom, it might prove to be an impossible task, but it is a task that we must engage in doing.
Don’t take the easy way of the law, but do the hard work of living in liberty and exercising your God-given rights. Be free!