Not on my Watch!
We are fond of referring to our brave soldiers and service men and women as those who lay their lives on the line for us to defend our freedom. But do we know what freedom really means any more? If our grandchildren were to ask us what freedom means, what would you tell them?
In his new book, A Free People’s Suicide, Os Guinness reminds us that true freedom is not easily sustained, nor is it rightly understood by most today. “We live at a time when words such as freedom, progress and values are bandied around endlessly, yet few people stop to ask what they mean, now that the last generation has seen them emptied of almost all content.” He goes on to say, “At the heart of freedom lies a grand paradox: the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom.”
He means that when we forget what freedom is about, that our ability to sustain true freedom has to do with the heart and what we love supremely, freedom becomes nothing more than an idol. We love freedom as the means for feeding our personal selfish appetites with little or no concern for the common good. Ultimately, this philosophy of freedom destroys itself. Guinness describes the heart of the problem this way: “Such is our human propensity for self-love—or thinking and acting with the self as center—that the virtue it takes for citizens to remain free is quite unnatural. America today is a republic in which the private trumps the public, consumerism tells Americans, ‘It’s all about me’… In such a world, self-love will always love itself supremely, love itself at the expense of others and love itself without limits.” Sound familiar?
As election times grows closer and the pundits spew their clichés about freedom, it is time to ask ourselves what we actually believe about freedom. How does the way we live reflect what we actually believe? If our grandchildren asked us what freedom means, what would we tell them? Have we bought into the lie that freedom is about our own unrestrained desires that demand “what’s in it for me?”, or do we hold a higher standard that is rooted in self-sacrifice and looking to the interests of others.
Paul reminds us that while Christ has truly set us free, we are never to “use our freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve on another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” When our grandsons and granddaughters are adults, will they look back and see that we gave our lives so they could have their tomorrows? Or will they find that we squandered everything on ourselves and left them nothing but a vague memory of something called freedom? Will our soldiers have anything left to fight for?
Let us make sure our view of freedom is not the enemy of what we cherish.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn. 8:32).
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