by Jennifer Wood
July 10, 2017
Liberty. Freedom. Both words are interchangeable
pretty much. It means that we are not ruled by a despotic government,
that we are not captives or slaves, that we have the right to make certain
choices such as religious preference and who will be our leaders, that we can
have our own businesses and own our own homes, that we have a justice system
that uses our peers to decide our fate, etc.
The thing about freedom is that with it comes great responsibility. We can abuse freedom. An example of this is that constitutionally we have the freedom of speech; but people take that freedom so far that they say things that are so unkind and untruthful and brutal. That is not what the freedom of speech is to be used for. And I'm sure you've noticed that people can be selective as to who is allowed this freedom..those who spout off all their beliefs complain if someone says something to the contrary, and calls them haters. This is not freedom being exercised. It is a form of despotism.
What about the right to burn the flag of our country? We fundamentally have that right, but should it be exercised? If we are so divided among ourselves that we can't stand united and respect all that our flag represents, our country is already vulnerable to our enemies. We are halfway to the point of being overtaken by them. Again, freedom comes with responsibility. We have a responsibility to help keep our country strong.
What do we have the right to do? Of what should our freedom consist? Well, I believe Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do you realize that if we actually put this commandment into action as a nation we would truly be free? We would be free from crime because we wouldn't take advantage of or hate or kill those around us. We would be free from dissension because people wouldn't use their freedom of speech to be hateful to others. We could disagree without being disagreeable. Truth could be spoken without offense because it would be spoken in love. Can you even imagine a place like that? But that is what true freedom looks like.
This is how the Bible puts it: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." Galatians 5:13 So liberty in essence isn't for us..it is for others. If we just heap it on ourselves, always concerned about our rights, we are not practicing true liberty. We only practice true liberty when our focus is on others.
We do not have the freedom to do wrong. As Scottish clergyman Peter Marshall once said, "May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." We do not have the freedom to hurt others. We do not have the freedom to disobey the law. And we do not have the freedom to disrespect our country. Sure, our country is imperfect. Sure, we see a lot of things happening that are against God and are thus disconcerting. And we see people treating each other horribly. But disrespect has no place here. Taking a knee when the national anthem is sung is criminal. Countless people have died for the freedoms we enjoy in our country. Let us not spit on their graves by using our freedom to bring our country down.
America has always been the greatest country on this planet. It has slipped a bit, however, mostly due to misusing our liberty. But it will never regain its footing if we continue down the path we are on. I think we need to take to heart a statement that one of our presidents made.."And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy
Freedom comes with great responsibility.