04 Jul

True Freedom is…

Here in the USA it is “Independence Day” (aka Fourth of July-duh!). It is a time of barbeques and parades and yep-fireworks (If safe and legal).  Historically, we celebrate because on July 4, 1776, a collective of 13 British colonies issued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their right to self-determination and the establishment of a cooperative union. These rebellious states eventually defeated the British Empire in the American Revolution, the first successful colonial war of independence. (check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States for a history lesson)
Websters defines “freedom” as follows:
1. A state of exemption from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. Freedom is personal, civil, political, and religious. [See Liberty.]
2. Particular privileges; franchise; immunity; as the freedom of a city.
3. Power of enjoying franchises.
4. Exemption from fate, necessity, or any constraint in consequence of predetermination or otherwise; as the freedom of the will.
5. Any exemption from constraint or control.
6. Ease or facility of doing any thing. He speaks or acts with freedom.
7. Frankness; boldness. He addressed his audience with freedom.
8. License; improper familiarity; violation of the rules of decorum; with a plural. Beware of what are called innocent freedoms.
Pretty lofty stuff huh?
I especially like # 1 as a succinct definition in the context of this particular holiday. But what does it really mean to be free? Does it mean we can do whatever we want, whenever we want without regard for the safety of others? What about THEIR freedom?  Is it any more or less important than mine? And how do I reconcile my exercise of personal freedom with the freedom I have as a Christian-especially considering that while I am in Christ I am His servant, and at the same time Scripture plainly states we are free indeed! ( John 8:36 )
And so I did one of my favorite types of Bible Study-a word study on FREEDOM.  I limited it to usage as a noun and found a total of 14 references (NIV)and within that discovered there are FIVE different Greek words that are translated freedom It was also discovered that ALL references to the noun FREEDOM are in the New Testament!
Greek Strong’s
Luke 4:18
Strong’s Greek #859
Acts 24:23
Strong’s Greek #425
Romans 8:21
Strong’s Greek #1657
1 Corinthians 8:9
Strong’s Greek #1849
1 Corinthians  10:29
Strong’s Greek #1657
2 Corinthians 3:17
Strong’s Greek #1657
Galatians 2:4
Strong’s Greek #1657
Galatians 5:1
Strong’s Greek #1657
Galatians 5:13
Strong’s Greek #1657
Ephesians 3:12
Strong’s Greek #3954
James 1:25
Strong’s Greek #1657
James 2:12
Strong’s Greek #1657
1 Peter 2:16
Strong’s Greek #1657
2 Peter 2:19
Strong’s Greek #1657
1)      859.     ἄφεσις aphĕsis, af´-es-is; from 863; freedom; (fig.) pardon:— deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission.[1]
2)      425.     ἄνεσις anĕsis, an´-es-is; from 447; relaxation or (fig.) relief:— eased, liberty, rest.[2]
3)      1657.   ἐλευθερία ĕlĕuthĕria, el-yoo-ther-ee´-ah; from 1658; freedom (legitimate or licentious, chiefly moral. or ceremonial.):— liberty.[3]
4)      1849.   ἐξουσία ĕxŏusia, ex-oo-see´-ah; from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subj.) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (obj.) mastery (concr. magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence:— authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.[4]
5)      3954.   παῤῥησία parrhēsia, par-rhay-see´-ah; from 3956 and a der. of 4483; all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by impl. assurance:— bold (× -ly, -ness, -ness of speech), confidence, × freely, × openly, × plainly (-ness).[5]
Go ahead, look ‘em up! One thing that especially sticks out to me is that while we are indeed FREE, we are also taught guidelines(bold references above) for exercising this freedom we have.  Aha! Counting the cost of this wonderful freedom.  In other words with freedom comes responsibility.  And what is at the heart of these admonitions but to protect the weak in the faith, and not be stumbling block – serving one another in love and lastly to not utilize our freedom as an excuse for evil.  
From a strictly political standpoint, while many decry the many laws and regulations we, as Americans, are subject to-I am reminded that so too are we subject, as Christians to the guidelines in the use of our freedom in Christ. Some might argue that these two types of freedom are like comparing apples and oranges but I would disagree. And as we, as Christians, are called to this higher standard I suggest that we are no less subject to the laws of our great country even if we may disagree with them at times. As for me, I will do as our Lord said “Render unto “Caesar” what is “Caesar’s” and unto God what is God’s.  In daily practice and obedience to God, I will first practice the guidelines that Scripture plainly states about utilizing my freedom—serve, protect, and love!
And so today, while we gather together, remember that while we are free, we are guided by Scripture to exercise our freedom as Americans, and Christians with a view to serve others.-in wisdom and love.
I’d really be interested in knowing what freedom means to you.  Also, jot me a line below if you like these word studies. I utilize Logos Bible software daily in my studies and devotions and highly recommend this invaluable resource for those who are really “into the Word” ala geek. 
Hope you'll share with others!