Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Freedom and Responsibility

I was thinking recently about my trip to Prague several years ago with my eldest daughter. While we were there, they were preparing for an election. We were surprised to learn that their Senate had a number of Communists and there was also a Communist campaigning for election to the Senate by distributing fruit bars with his picture and campaign promises (in Czech) on the wrapper as we made our way through the subway stations. It was surprising to us because we were under the mistaken impression that, having been freed from Communism, the people would certainly want nothing to do with the system that had oppressed them for so many years. But what we discovered was that some of the people in this former "Iron Curtain" nation blamed freedom for the influx of prostitution, pornography, and organized crime.

Although we speak lovingly of freedom, we sometimes demonstrate a preference for tyranny, because freedom necessitates responsibility for our actions. We prefer to ignore the truth - freedom to commit an act does not cause us to commit the act.  Freedom is the stage upon which our character is revealed and displayed for all to see.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are sometimes frustrated that the law fails to prohibit acts that we consider to be immoral or sinful in God's sight.  But this freedom allows us to demonstrate visibly and powerfully the difference that Christ makes in our lives. We too often are more preoccupied with changing the law or letting everyone know how we feel about the law, than with helping victims, living according to the moral code we proclaim, and especially showing the love by which Christ said His true followers would be known.

One of the greatest differences between the United States and some of the Muslim nations that oppose us so violently is the freedom that our citizens enjoy. These nations teach that the strict moral code that is forced upon them will allow them to be righteous in the sight of Allah. It's a lie - because righteousness is not revealed by what you do when constrained by the law. Instead, it is demonstrated by your actions when you are free to act according to your character. Righteousness cannot be impressed upon us by law, but must come from within - and it can only come from within when the Holy Spirit dwells within us and leads us.  "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."  Ephesians 1:13-14

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