Liberty and love Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 July 2017
By Chaplain (Maj.) J. Clark Sneed
Special to GUIDON

Scripture says:  “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:13-14)

Though freedom has never been free, the idea of it is sometimes very cheap.

I think of images on television as someone, often in handcuffs, spouts off angrily about their “freedom to live as they choose,” regardless of the impact on their neighbor. Our courts even defend pornography as a form of free speech, despite the well-documented relationship it has with human trafficking.

Our nation’s founders saw liberty more clearly as the freedom from oppression. This noble idea of liberty continues to guide us today, despite the fact that our founders had some glaring gaps in their concept of all men being created equal. The idea of liberty evolves, and we must evolve with it — guarding those aspects that are true and good, while having the courage to change those that are not.

It troubles me to see the bitterness in our nation today, especially among believers. Does love for your neighbor influence the issues you support? Do you demonstrate your liberty in a manner that shows grace and courtesy to those who hold opposing views? Must your devotion to any given cause look like hatred to neighbors who feel differently? Consider God’s kingdom, where He reigns in the hearts of his children — here, now, and in this world. How does He want us to live out our freedom?

The Apostle Paul, in the text above, has a strong opinion about what right looks like. Yet, feisty as his letters can be, he returns to this one command as the foundation of all behavior — that we love our neighbor as ourselves.

Avoid the temptation to use your liberty in a way that hurts those around you. “The servant of the Lord,” Paul writes in a letter to Timothy, “must not quarrel but be gentle to all . . .” Stand up for what is right and true, by all means. But express your liberty in such a way that those watching will experience the love, grace, and mercy of God.

(Editor’s note: Sneed is the 3rd Chemical Brigade chaplain.)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 July 2017 )