July 7, 2008

Thoughts on Freedom

Having lived my entire life in the shadows of Philadelphia (the birthplace of American independence), the Revolutionary War left its mark on me. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin have been recurring characters in my life’s scenery. And the concept of freedom was ingrained from an early age.

During the Fourth of July holiday, our country celebrated the freedom brought about by the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence. Flags flying, fireworks and patriotic hymns filled us with national pride.

But as the brouhaha fades, our collective attention turns from celebrating the wonderful story that binds us together and returns to the never-ending fight for self that separates us. The media tell myriad tales of those who battle to protect (or redefine) their rights—especially their First Amendment rights—even if the rights they hope to claim adversely affect someone else’s.

Watching from the sidelines, it can get confusing. What’s the right amount of personal freedom? How much is too much? What’s not enough?

While we have a civic responsibility to be involved in our government, as believers we need to remember we’re aliens on this earth, “longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” (Heb 11:16). God has prepared a city for us. Our time here is practice.

In the Bible, James gives a much different view of free speech than we’re taught in civics class or in the news.

The tongue is ”a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person…All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (James 3:6-11)

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the tongue can condemn us to hell.

James’ words convicted me. Too often I live a dual life. Sometimes my words praise God. But too often they criticize, judge, berate and belittle others. According to James, if a stream of fresh water is flowing within, this duality is not possible.

But I block the Spirit within because I forget my citizenship. I forget my struggle isn’t about protecting my personal rights; it’s about relinquishing them to others—in love. I forget my goal isn’t to keep it all for myself; it's to give it all away. It’s not about escaping authority, but submitting to a higher One.

I’m proud to be an American, but I know freedom isn’t determined solely by geography or a signed piece of paper. True freedom comes from above. Jesus paid the price that freed us from the tyranny of sin and death. Through Him we can claim our citizenship.

And when we do, then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. (Jn 8:32)

7 comments:

Runner Mom said...

Kelli, loved the post. You really made me think about the way our words can make or break someone.

You are extremely talented, my sweet friend. I expect to hear that you are submitting your stories/blogs to magazines...very soon! Get on the ball, girl! People need to hear how God is speaking through your writing!

Did you get the pictures? Let me know! Love your picture of you on the scooter!! Too, too cute!!
Love ya,
Susan

Dan said...

In this world, but not of it....in this world, but not of it...in this world, but not of it. Oh, sorry - if I don't keep repeating this to myself, I tend to forget. This posting helped - thanks, Kel!

Leebird said...

Hey Kelli,

I found your blog thru Susan's blog list.

Thank you for your poignant expression about the bottom line of living a life of freedom.

On a side note, on Sunday, my husband was addressing the kids at Sunday School and asked them, "What is the 4th of July a celebration of?"

The room got dead-quiet...one little girl raised her hand and said with complete seriousness, "It celebrates when the fireworks come."

Peggy said...

OK. Kelli friend,
We are FREE, we are FREE, we are FREE AT LAST. Free through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Yes, we don't always take our freedom seriously and yet God keeps freeing us and forgiving us.
His infinate grace is our Christian birthright, just as we all take advantage of our freedoms we have as American citizens, we do the same as Christians.
As my favorite verses in Lamintations 3:21,22 We recieve new mercies each day and God's grace and love. We have only to choose the freedom to accept God's love, grace and MERCY each day.
Have a grat day, girlfriend.....
Blessings and Love, Peggy

Justin said...

Kelli,

Extremely insightful post! Like James, Paul tells us that we are first and foremost citizens of heaven. We are Christians first, who just happen to be Americans, and not the other way around!

Justin

Christie Todd said...

Kelli-
Thanks for your comment on my blog. I remember you from your too cute hair! The shorter the better, I always say. I read back a few posts to see what your response was to She Speaks - very interesting. I found that when I attended last year for the speakers track, I came with no expectations - I was so nervous I didn't have time for expectations. I came home filled up to overflowing and busting at the seams. This year, I too, came with many great expectations that were not fulfilled but what I did find was that God had a different role for me this time. I got the opportunity to meet many women who were nervous as they were attending for the first time - God allowed me to bring them words of comfort and encouragement. It was almost like He sent me there for them much more than for myself. It was very cool and I was able to put myself away to help them. (it had to be God cause I can't do this very well normally)
Always expect great things from God, but always be willing to see great things in a new perspective when He has different things in mind than you do.

Have a great day
Christie

Katherine said...

Kelli-

The tongue is interesting indeed!
I recently learned to pick and choose my battles. Prior to me learning this I love to argue a point. What I realize now is that sometimes a point is not worth arguing over.

And you are right, we are quick to use our tongue for the wrong things as opposed to simply praising God with.

Good post!
Blessings,
Katherine