I’ve had a couple moments in the past week where I’ve gone from reading /posting about atrocities in Iraq to laughing about a silly video – all within moments. At first, I had to resist the urge to think this was somewhat schizophrenic. Then, I remembered that this is part of what freedom means. Certainly, far too many of us spend far too much time observing culture from in front of the blue-trimmed screen of Facebook. I’m not debating that. Faithful use of time is a mark of a good steward and those who call Jesus “Lord” understand that our time is not ours to spend flippantly. Still, there’s another piece to this that I want to think about and celebrate: what freedom means. Freedom means that I don’t have to feel guilty for spending some time enjoying myself. That is the freedom that I long to see for the innocent victims in Iraq, Israel and Gaza, Liberia and everywhere there is war or injustice (sobering link below, showing current wars/conflicts: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/). Jesus said that he came so that His people would have abundant life (John 10:10), and abundant life involves work and leisure, joy and pain, freedom to be silly and sober reflection. But that’s not all freedom means.
Freedom in Christ also means that when there’s an opportunity, we seek to do what is right. Following Jesus’ example and indwelling Spirit (ask me about this doctrine if that “indwelling Spirit” comment seems bizarre to you) means that we don’t merely live for ourselves and our own freedom and peace, but we take opportunities to bring the same for others. Freedom in Christ means that we are compelled to act, not by a bullet or threat of violence, but by compassion and a drive to see God glorified. It has been an interesting week for me personally and I have been reminded that there is indeed a war going on in many places, including the hearts and lives of people who are not in a physical threat of war. This week, because of my commitment as a man of Jesus Christ and a pastor, I have seen people who are choosing to yield their lives to Christ. I’ve seen a man step up and take on responsibility to love and lead other men as they grow in their faith. I’ve seen men encourage one another to live lives of purity, faithfulness and goodness in a culture that insults those values. I’ve seen women choose to bless one another with their words, apologize and show grace to one another. I’ve seen young people excited to serve others with their time.
There is surely a physical battle in Iraq right now; and in so many other places. But there is also a battle in our souls – every one of us. We seek freedom for people on a mountain, and that is good. Let us also seek freedom from the mountains of greed, selfishness, unbelief, lust, impurity, hatred, envy and all forms of ungodliness. That is a battle that will rage on as long as there is life. That is a battle that must be fought daily; not with munitions, but with grace. That is a battle in which we need each other constantly. That is a battle I want to win.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
(Galatians 5:13 ESV)