Christian Philosophy Lite: True freedom comes from above
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By Raymond Smith
Someone has said that man was born free, but everywhere man is in chains.
From time immemorial, men have been enslaved or have had only limited freedom. While a few countries down through the ages have given their subjects relative freedom, many times class differences kept a large number of citizens in poverty. Today, largely because of the efforts of many religious founding fathers, America sets the standard for freedom throughout the world. Many early settlers came here to obtain religious freedom - freedom to worship as they pleased; freedom from persecution and even imprisonment. Horace Greeley said, "It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a Bible reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom."
In repressive societies all over the world, Christians find their religious expression limited. Yet in their minds they are free, remembering the words: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
Madame Guyon wrote from the Bastille: "My cage confines me round; abroad I cannot fly; but though my wing is closely bound, my heart's at liberty; my prison walls cannot control The flight, the freedom of the soul." The greatest Bible study one can do is to strive to understand Jesus' mind-set. We are under the new covenant and we are to have the mind of Christ.
Let's look at some of the freedoms proclaimed by Christ: He pronounced freedom from the yoke of custom, ritualism and legalism. The Jewish leaders of the day had placed excessive burdens on the people by interpreting the law so strictly that that religion had become difficult and constraining. In place of enslavement, the Christian finds new rewarding relationships with people, a concern for the less fortunate and a love of beauty, truth and the finer things of life.
As Christians, our minds are free from guilt and fear. While we remain sinners, Jesus has covered our sins with His blood. This does not give us a license to sin because the true Christian wishes to please his heavenly Father and will strive to live a sanctified life. Death has no dread for the Christian. I have talked with many elderly Christians who are perfectly at ease with the idea of their passing.
There is freedom from destructive personal habits. Alcoholics Anonymous has for years delivered many from the curse of alcohol, by stressing a "power from above." From that success story came many other AA organizations like Overeaters Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, just to name a few.
Freedom implies and even demands responsibility. While the atheist's mantra is, "Do as thou wilt," the Christian is expected to abide by God's law and our nation's law. Frederick Schiller said that freedom does not mean that everyone can do as he likes, but that he can become what he should.
Eternal vigilance is the price of earthly freedom, but Christ's freedom gives us an everlasting peace. We don't have to fight for it - just accept it.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and president of Strong Families of Victoria.