Freedom is a means, not an end

The storming of Capital Hill today (Thursday 7 Jan 2021) in America is a catastrophe. It represents so many things that are wrong.

A leader who uses power to divide. A loser who will not concede defeat. A man whose personal agendas overshadow. Democracy undermining itself. Peaceful protests becoming more (or is that less?). Lies being broadcast, and then believed. Mob rule and hysteria.

While many things will be said of this day, I will choose to focus on one. America was a nation founded upon the rights of individuals. Many of those who boarded the Mayflower in 1620 were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. From inception, modern America was founded upon the right of the individual to freely hold to beliefs and practices, according to one’s personal convictions.

Trump fashions himself as a preserver of such individual and religious freedoms. In some cases, he has defended the right of religious organisations to employ, or engage, or act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs.

Yet his definition of freedom does not align with that of scripture. In the bible, freedom is usually framed in relationship to the law. We are free from the obligation to try and save ourselves by obeying the law. This does not lead to the conclusion that we are free to do as we please. Rather, once freed from the obligation of saving self through the law, we become slaves to Christ and others.

Put simply, in Christianity we are freed from sin, not freed to do as we please (which often, is also sin?). We are freed from sin to serve.

Freedom is a means, not the greatest end in itself. The right to choose has become an idol. God’s question to you on judgement day will be about what have you done with your freedom?

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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