Opinion: Freedom in Christ requires sacrifice

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Do you love America? Do you love God? Which do you love more?

From the news I watch, the politics I follow and the ideologies I hear spewed in late-night opinionated tirades about economic policies and gun laws, many self-proclaimed Christians would rather be American.

While this is a “Christian nation” (at least nominally, as evidenced by the phrase “one nation under God” in our pledge or “In God we trust” on our currency) we seem quite caught up in ourselves. To be American means to be free. Freedom of life, liberty and property. Free to do what we want with our own stuff in our own house.

So the moral questions of taxes on the rich, background checks on firearms, welfare, immigration and abortion all are viewed from the seat of a free person, who is defending their rights.

And this seems right, because after all, Christ came to set us free.

There is only one thing wrong with this logic. Christ didn’t come so that we could be free to say what we want, do what we want and maintain our rights to our own hard work — he came that we may be free from the constraints of sin.

Our freedom in Christ feels like a burden sometimes. It is full of “do-this” and “don’t-do-that,” but these are not rules inhibiting our freedom; rather, they are instructions. If you want to be close to God, and thus free from sin, these are the things that God says you should do.

So what should Christians be doing and what kind of political policies should Christians concern themselves with?

Christ explicitly calls Christians to care for the “least of these,” and he was not talking about looking out for yourself. James says something similar, about an authentic faith, in James 1.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

These verses should provide clear guidance for the Christian ideology regarding welfare and taxes. But what about other social issues? What does the Bible say in regards to firearms?

To get to the bottom of this, we have to recognize the motivations behind all that we do. For many people the need for a firearm is to protect oneself. But should a Christian protect herself?

Is the Lord faithful to those who follow his Word? If Christ is with us, then who can stand against us? Whom (or what) shall I fear? Is your trust in your bank account or your pension plan, or is it in the Lord?

Freedom in America means having the right to protect yourself and to save money for your future. Freedom in Christ means doing what he calls you to do. He doesn’t call Christians to come up with a plan, just to follow out the tasks he gives them.

God has a plan. It involves Americans. I am convinced of that. What it doesn’t involve are the rights of a person to do whatever causes the chips to fall in their favor. At the end of the world, life will go on. Americans spend too much time using their freedom to plan for the future here in America. Christians ought to be more concerned with life after the second resurrection.

In the classic anecdote, we will get to the pearly gates and will be asked what we have done with our lives. Only one answer is right.

Are we, as Christians living in America, laying down our freedoms and fears for his glory? Are we making choices that are best for the kingdom or best for us?

So the question is again posed, but it is not hypothetical. Are you a Christian or are you American? Which would you rather be? Is your faith in you or is your faith in Christ?

This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily represent the views of Calvin Chimes, Calvin College or the Christian Reformed Church. 

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