We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage. (Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States)
The American Revolution was in part, a battle for religious freedom. Courageous men and women stood up for that which was right and just, a belief held so deeply that they were willing to risk their lives to fight for this freedom. This young nation honored God and by His providence, was protected from evil forces seeking to destroy it. God bless these holy men and women for fighting for what they believed.
Freedom is not the capability to do as you please but to do as you ought. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin” (cf. Jn 8:34). Author George Weigel defines sin as “the failure to live freedom excellently.”
Freedom is rooted in reason. Jesus speaks of the interrelationship of freedom and truth, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). Jesus also says, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). True freedom is found in living according to the teachings of Christ and it is a life of love.
Genesis 2 teaches us something about sin, a concept which many Christians and non-Christians fail to comprehend. God commanded Adam and Eve, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen 2:16-17). The serpent tempted Adam and Eve to go against God’s commandment. It is, in fact, the same temptation the world promises today, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5). The temptations of the serpent in the Garden, and in our culture today, distort the real meaning of freedom through false promises that we “will be like God.”
Simply put, good or evil acts either please or displease God. He is the determiner of what is good or evil. God’s commandment in the Garden did not limit Adam and Eve’s freedom; He provided them a truth that would lead to happiness. Boundaries are created by God out of love for His children. He gave this commandment to them as a blessing. God created Adam and Eve out of love and wanted them to remain in His love. Evil displeases God and fractures this mutual loving relationship. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, short of doing evil, which would sever their relationship with God.
Our culture has removed God from the discussion about freedom, “I can do whatever I want; I decide what is good and evil.” Ignoring the truth, man is deluded into thinking that sinful behavior will bring happiness. This is the devil’s ploy to deceive. Once a sin is committed, a person is trapped into a lifestyle devoid of meaning and happiness. The freedom to choose well is lost. The person falls into hopelessness, despair and a downward spiral of seeking pleasures to fill the gaping hole in his heart that only God can fill.
It is simple to determine if an action is good or evil. Ask yourself these questions, “Is what I am about to do pleasing or displeasing to God? Will it move me closer to God or further away?” Regarding marriage, God has clearly stated what is pleasing to Him. “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord” (Mal 2:16). Our culture views marriage as outdated and restrictive to one’s freedom. People think, “I’ll give this marriage five years and if I am no longer happy, I’m out of here.” Happiness will never be found in leaving your spouse and children. To do so is to live a lie. Freedom devoid of truth and goodness is not freedom. It is slavery to sin. The world looks at Christianity and sees it as a limit from doing something. Christianity is a freedom for doing something. It is freedom for love, both God and neighbor. True freedom is found in living within the boundaries God has put in place for our benefit and happiness. Happiness comes from making a sincere gift of self for another. This is the true freedom that is pleasing to God.
Jesus then said…“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32
Dare to be great! Be counter-cultural by living in true freedom. In doing so you will experience all the joy and happiness that God intends for your marriage and you will be a powerful witness to a culture that is so in need of godly examples of freedom lived well.