Freedom of Choice
Freedom is not free. We know this, we’ve heard it before, probably many times, if we’ve been around long enough. I’m not saying I’ve been around a while, but then again, I’m no spring chicken, so this quote is one I’m pretty familiar with. I’ll let you jump to conclusions about my age later.
Here’s the quote if you’re not familiar – it’s one of my favorites from Eleanor Roosevelt, and I think speaks a lot about freedom and applies to our Christian calling specifically. “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”
We so often take our freedoms for granted – the little ones, like being able to do, more or less, whatever we want, whenever we want, with little consequence. Which sometimes includes being able to wear some questionable things, eating sushi to our heart’s delight and showering for long lengths of time, or any other little thing that we truly enjoy.
But in seriousness and beyond the sushi, we have the luxury and the big freedom to form our own opinions, share them, even blog about them with little hesitation about Big Brother or getting into trouble because our view is different than the government’s. Not everyone has this freedom; it’s an understatement for sure that we are lucky enough to have this freedom, and it’s ignorance at its finest to believe that we came upon all of this just by luck, without counting all of the big and small sacrifices our servicemen and servicewomen have given for these freedoms.
These are no small things, no small feats. And the price of freedom is not lost on me.
But as a Christian, the freedoms we take for granted hold different meaning, value and weight when we add in what we know about being free combined with the responsibility of being a Christian.
We have freedom to believe whatever it is we want. Yes, even us. Just because we are Christian does not mean we believe firmly in the right or the left, or even the in-between; we are still allowed to believe what we want to believe and whatever party side that may fall under, regardless of how that fits into (or out of) the definition of our society’s Christian box.
However, with that freedom comes the great responsibility to live and let live, to let those who disagree with us or our views still do so. To not burn them at the stake, or anyone else for that matter, because they disagree with us, our opinion, or our right to believe as choose.
The responsibility in our freedoms lies in the choices we make as humans, as people.
And that responsibility is great, as it means we must put the individual first, as God taught us to do. We must not choose the issue, not the polarity, not the right or left sides, not the “this-camp or that-camp” black and white sort of thinking over the individual, at least in my opinion.
As a Christian, that is just not the luxury we have with others. We cannot make the issues non-human, we cannot make it about the issue itself and pretend there is no human, no person, no story in there, that the issue is simply flat, and we cannot pretend that there isn’t a living individual stuck in the middle of whatever the issue or political story of the day may be. Being a Christian means a responsibility to care for the person, not just the issue.
We have to remember that humans are humans, and everyone has their own issue or point of contention, and that’s normal. But we as Christians have a choice – we can continue be the people who stone the prostitute for her actions because we don’t believe in what she does and how it’s in great conflict with our common values or we can be the people who reach in and grab her hand and help pull her out.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be in the latter group, known as one who helps as opposed to sits idly in judgment, who reaches out a hand instead of casting a stone.
The point is not that we won’t judge, as we’re human and we have a tendency to, but the point is that we are the ones that have, by following Christ, been given the freedom of loving and helping whomever – whether it’s right to or not – tied with the great responsibility of doing so, even if it means we cross party lines or do things that don’t logically fall in line with one side or another, or have a strong, unyielding opinion on a certain important political discussion.
It means looking stupid or weak some days. It means that we pay attention to and care for the person, the one inside, living the cause or the issue. And it means we love the person more than we care about the issue itself.
In short, it means we continue to pick people over politics. Individuals over issues.
And it means we continue to be aggressive and outspoken in the care of a person, more so than we are outspoken in issues that we think have no individuals behind them.
It means that we choose freedom, a freedom that comes with great responsibility: we choose the freedoms of love and forgiveness over everything else. And the great responsibility to keep making this decision over and over again.