Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.
Phil 1:27 NLT
Americans have many earthly freedoms. Freedom to vote, freedom not to vote. We are free to marry, have children, own property, travel across the country and into most countries in the world. We can bear arms or not bear arms; we can even hunt bears if they’re in season. America is, as the saying goes, the land of the free.
But American Christians have a dilemma. Our earthly freedoms were relativized when we submitted to the Lordship of King Jesus. We march to the beat of a different drum and follow a Savior who breathed out a countercultural ethic when he called us to come die with him. And when we gave our allegiance to Jesus, we exchanged our earthly freedoms for the scandalous freedom of submitting to our risen King, a King who gave up his own freedoms as the son of God to serve those who were against him.
Christians are, indeed, free. Free to serve, free to give, free to love our neighbors and enemies alike. We are free to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev 14:4), even if it means giving up our earthly freedoms in the process. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he gave up his divine freedom to be served and instead opted to serve (John 13:1-17). He shed his outer garments and took the form of a household slave to wash the disciples’ feet—including the feet of Judas who was betraying him. And then he commanded us to do the same: “I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet” (John 13:14).
Our national freedoms allows us to serve ourselves, defend ourselves, and love ourselves. But these freedoms conflict with our heavenly freedom for selfless sacrifice, radical generosity, and a countercultural love which includes our enemies. We should joyfully lay down our passports and pick up a cross to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.”
Freedom does not mean we do whatever we want. It means we’re finally released from the bondage of self and sin, to do whatever Jesus wants—to become servants of all people and wash the feet of even those who betray us.
Father, I pray that you would chisel away our pride, and that we would see this life as not ‘our’ lives, but lives we have been given by you for your kingdom. Please shape us into your likeness, and may we be able to serve our enemies in a way that that can only be done through you.