Today marks 237 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. For me, this means freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom to bear arms. Freedom of religion. Freedom to pursue what makes you happy. Freedom is what God wants for us. He gave mankind freedom to make their own choices. This is pure freedom. But, freedom comes with a cost.
When people are free, the line between what is right and what is wrong becomes blurred. Objective truth now becomes more abstract and relative. What may be true for me may not be true for you because we are both free to think as we want. Our society is very similar to the Roman society nearly 2,000 years ago. The Roman world flourished because they were free to think as they wished. This posed a real problem as the gospel of Jesus Christ spread. Check out the words Paul wrote to Timothy:
“If someone spreads false teachings and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in controversies and verbal disputes. This gives rise to envy, dissension, slanders, evil suspicions, and constant bickering by people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit. Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains.” 1 Timothy 6:3-10
This may seem to contradict what Paul wrote to the Philippian church. I wrote about it in May here. In that passage Paul was saying that it didn’t matter what people’s desires were as long as Jesus was being preached. Here, Paul is talking about people “acting” godly to make money. They may be preaching about Jesus but they are using religion to control people and make a profit. This type of control takes away freedom.
But that’s the problem. Since we live in a free world people have the liberty to preach false teachings that are not in line with what Jesus taught. Since people are free to do that, they can assert control over others.
Are you strong enough to hold on to the true words of Jesus and keep away from false gospels?
Back to my question: How important is freedom to you?
Let me rephrase that: What’s more important to you, freedom or the true gospel?
My answer is simple; preaching the true gospel trumps my own personal freedoms all day. But, I feel truly blessed and grateful to live in a country founded on freedom for all people. Feel free to leave your answer in the comments below.