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23.07.2021

How Will You Use Your Freedom?

Last Monday was dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ in England, as Boris Johnson lifted nearly all the coronavirus restrictions (while, ironically, entering self-isolation himself). 

While some people queued round the block to gain access to nightclubs at midnight on Monday, others were more cautious, with many businesses maintaining their masking and social distancing rules.  

The nation has pulled together to protect the health of the vulnerable for the last 16 months, but those at greatest risk from the virus are understandably nervous as many of us celebrate the opportunity to cast off restraints, even as the infection rate continues to rise. 

Yet the burden on children, businesses, and church life has been a heavy one. How should Christians respond to these competing needs and concerns? 

Galatians 5 teaches us that we have been ‘called to be free’. ‘But,’ it warns, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ 

To be honest, I wish it didn’t say this. I haven’t found the lockdowns overly burdensome, but I have missed welcoming my Bible study group into my home to sit around a table and eat together. And I’m thankful that my church is allowing – even encouraging – us to sing from this Sunday. 

Selfishly, I want to be able to enjoy my freedoms while they last. I want to declare that God hasn’t given us a Spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), and call believers to live with boldness and confidence in God’s power. But then I read the rest of the verse, and it reminds me that hand-in-hand with that power come two other things: love and self-control (or self-discipline, as the NIV puts it).  

Freedom in the Bible isn’t freedom as the world sees it; it isn’t the freedom to indulge our every desire – the Bible actually describes being driven by our desires as slavery (see John 8:31–36 and Romans 6, for example). Rather, we have been given the freedom to love without constraint, freedom to serve one another, and freedom to worship God in word and deed. So as we go back into our churches, workplaces, and neighbourhoods, maybe our greatest witness will be seen in the restraints we choose to accept for the sake of serving one another humbly in love. 

 

Jennie Pollock 
Jennie Pollock is a writer and editor who lives, works, and worships in central London. She blogs at jenniepollock.com and tweets as @missjenniep. Her first book, If Only: Finding Joyful Contentment in the Face of Lack and Longing, is out now. 

Comments

  1. Great thought – I especially like how you show the distinction & contrast between worldly & spiritual ideas of freedom

    By Bruce Gulland  -  23 Jul 2021

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