Freedom and Community – Constant Tension

Being a Christian can sometimes be a real challenge, especially in the USA. Granted Christians aren’t having to look over their shoulders for fear of death or imprisonment because of their faith, but our rights to things like privacy, pursuit of happiness, the freedom of speech, and the call by Christ to live as sacrifices don’t always line up. We “American Christians” (notice the word order) have to constantly check our culture and our faith and hold in tension “being in the world, but not of the world,” and that ain’t so easy. Without grace, I am sure we would fail.

Ask a Christian what they think about Freedom and how they balance their freedom in Christ and their rights as an American. (Have you ever asked that question?) After a confused look, a sigh and possibly a long pause you will probably be asked, “What do you mean?” or “Aren’t my rights as an American and my freedom in Christ mutually inclusive?” Is there even a tension? For instance, as an American I have the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, etc., and although it can be a blessing to have these rights, how do I view them in light of my choice to be a slave to Christ? Let’s pick on my right to bear arms. Wait, don’t shoot me just yet!

Now don’t get me wrong. I own a gun (OK multiple guns), but I do struggle with the tension of being a “Texan/American/Christian” (notice the word order). I have the right to bear arms. Now what in the world do I plan on doing if I am carrying a firearm? I know – I plan on loving my enemy, doing good to those who persecute me, letting vengeance belong to God and letting someone hit me on the other cheek, right? Well let’s just say that’s not why I own a gun, though I am certainly not seeing myself as an avenger for the Lord who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. See what I mean, it’s hard to be a Christian and be an American. OK, many of you can make some real good arguments both ways on the issue of bearing arms. But let’s pick on one more right for a minute — the right to privacy.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like my privacy. It lets me hide lots of things that I don’t want people to know about me. For instance, people don’t know what my relationship with my wife is really like. They only know what we tell them. They don’t know how I spend my money, or if I am actually living a life worthy of the calling. I don’t have to tell anyone about anything or be held accountable about how I take care of myself or my family. I don’t have to share were I am going, if I am tithing or if I am growing in my faith. I have a right to privacy. Culturally speaking we have moved into a very private era. We have taken our right to privacy from the government, and become people who live private lives, people who live outside of the revealing light. The Internet lets us shop, browse, and speak without those closest to us even knowing. Our houses have locks on the inside doors and our cars have privacy glass — every last peace of our lives is “password” protected. OK, it’s my right to privacy, so should I exercise it? How does it really affect my relationship to God, His church and my family of believers? Is it a hindrance to live in the Light, or do I bite on the ever-tempting, never-fulfilling right to keep my life private from those around me. I could go on.

Election season always calls me into a spirit of question. Not about which candidate, but about community. About how my citizenship in this foreign land and all the rights that go with it, work for or against me and my true citizenship, my true community in God’s Kingdom.


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One of Us - Laurie Templeton

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It’s Not Really About Facebook - Jordan Flippin

Oceans Instead of the Boat - Brandon Bell

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