What is “Freedom?” Specifically, what is “religious freedom?”

Devotional Thought of the Day:
36  If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free.
John 8:36 (TEV)

423         Under the pressure and impact of a materialistic, pleasure-loving, faithless world, how can we demand and justify the freedom of not thinking as they do, and of not acting as they do? A son of God has no need to ask for that freedom, because Christ won it for us once and for all. But he does need to defend it and practise it whatever the circumstance he finds himself in. Only thus will they understand that our freedom is not bound up in our surroundings.  (1)

This morning on the way to work, I heard a man complaining about the necessity to pay that his children could pray in school. He prattled on about how unfair it was that this wasn’t truly a free country, that it cost to have his kids raised by those who would teach them to pray. ( By the way, I know “Prattled” isn’t used much, but it fits the sounds he was making)

I think in this country we have made freedom an idol. Certainly we consider free speech a right, as well as the vague term “freedom of religion” or as some would have it, “freedom from religion.” We get upset when those “rights: are taken away, or limited.  We get even more upset when others use those “rights” in a way that threatens, disagrees or demeans us.  I’ve even heard the verse in red above used in discussions about the freedom of religion as if the Americanism – that Jesus gave us freedom, and anyone who would take it away should be damned.  (Or at least, mocked and embarrassed behind their back on Facebook)  The idol of freedom or even the freedom of religion does nothing long range for mankind.  It is an illusion, and it is not Christian freedom.

Our freedom is part of the peace that God gives us.  It is, as St. Josemaria says, freedom of not thinking as they do, or acting as they do.  It is not a freedom the world can give.   It is not a freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights or the Magna Carta.  It is the freedom Peter and Paul knew, as they were prisoners in Rome.  It is the freedom and peace that Stephen knew, as men laid their coats down at Saul’s feet, and picked up stones to crush him.  It is freedom martyrs longed to share with their tormenters.

It is a freedom that, like the peace we are given, is divine.

Hear the rest of Jesus statement, the context of the discussion on Freedom:

34  Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35  A slave does not belong to a family permanently, but a son belongs there forever. 36  If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free. 37  I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are trying to kill me, because you will not accept my teaching. 38  I talk about what my Father has shown me, but you do what your father has told you.”
John 8:34-38 (TEV)

Here is our freedom.  The freedom from guilt and shame that breaks us down as we realize the consequences of our sin.  The freedom to see the relationships shattered by sin.  The freedom from resentment, the anger and hurt we store in our memories, as if we can protect ourselves from further injury, further hurt.

It is a freedom that is part of our faith, part of the trust and dependence we have in God.  Dependence on His fulfilling promises like that in Romans 8 that everything will work out for our good, that nothing can separate us from Him.  Promises like Genesis 50, that what others plan for evil, God will use those things for good.  The promise that is revealed as we look to Jesus, the author of our faith, and the one who makes it perfect.

This is freedom, true freedom.

Let us treasure the Lord, who frees us, more than the illusion of freedoms that would leave us oppressed and bound to sin and unrighteousness.

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1893-1897). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on January 26, 2016, in Devotions, st josemaria escriva, The Furrow and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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