Column: The price of freedom

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Commentary Michael Vandenberg

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

July is the month we celebrate “freedom”. We pay homage to those who have fought and died to earn our freedoms. We take to the streets, shout it from the rooftops and display it in the sky, all to declare we are free. But what is the cost of freedom? Of course there is the price paid by brave men and women who have given their lives; that is one cost. There is also the cost that each of us must pay if we are to be free.

Sometimes we confuse Freedom with License. While we may be free, we do not have license to do whatever we want. In fact, license may well be the opposite of freedom. Freedom gives us the ability to act without hindrance or restraint, but always having a deep respect for the good of others. License is acting however you want, ire regardless of the rights and needs of others.

When we confuse the two it leads our precious gem of freedom to become tarnished and stained by the needless suffering and blood of others. We see this in the streets with a rising murder and crime rate. We see it in the selfish acts of those around us who would regard their needs more than ours. We see it in the public acts of public servants, elected officials and corporate giants who view that just because they “can” do something they should do it.

Jesus gave us a different outlook on freedom. Freedom is to be used, in its best sense, for the welfare of others. The rights and privileges of others should be protected, while at the same time not standing on our own rights. He even told us that there is no greater love than to willingly and knowingly give your life for another.

Imagine what kind of world it would be if each of us acted out of a deep sense of what is right and good and true for others and not simply out of a sense of “what’s in it for me”. If we all looked out for others, then we would have no need to look out for ourselves.  There can be release, good new, recovery and yes even freedom, if we learn the cost and are willing to pay the price. Only freedom for all ultimately delivers freedom for any. Will you give yourself to others, even before you insist on your own rights and freedoms? If so, then the American experiment will become a grand success and the kingdom of God will draw near.

 

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