The term, “freedom” can be abused to mean what it doesn’t advocate. Every human being needs freedom. But there have been incidences of entanglement into more slavery, by those in the quest for freedom. A typical example is that of the French Revolution, where people assumed that freedom meant lawlessness. Those people’s behaviour landed them up into being under the dictatorship of Napoleon the Emperor.
There cannot be freedom without responsibility. The codes of conduct by humanity are meant to ensure that everyone observes the agreed law, so as to experience freedom from criminality. The matter of agreement among humans has remained a conundrum. People see things differently, as coming from different backgrounds.
The Constitution of the United States of America embraces freedom, described according to avoidance of impingement on other people’s rights. In other words, one is as free as marrying a dog, as long as not infringing on other people’s rights. This, of course, has caused the USA to be at loggerheads with religious extremists. That freedom removes barriers, as long as not infringing other people’s rights.
People are free to even worship the devil, as long as not infringing on other people’s rights. This is why the USA is a haven for homosexuals. Churches have to bend rules, prescribed according to denominational viewpoints. One sees some semblances of confusion but would be unable to sue, as long as construed as violating other people’s rights.
The underlying principle would be to grant freedom to American citizens. Love them or hate them, you have a right to conduct your life freely, in America. Recently, a brother and sister were said to have been granted the right to marry. Disgusting as this may be to some, the American constitution forbids discriminating against such people.
Jesus declared that He came to grant freedom. He quoted a passage of Scripture that insinuated the granting of liberty to humanity. In other words, Jesus could not be accused of advocating lawlessness as He quoted an appropriate Scriptural to that endeavour.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day, he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21 NIV).
American freedom is different from Biblical freedom. We have to unpack what Jesus meant in the above passage of Scripture. The definition of freedom implies removing any form of restrictions, on a person’s conduct. A person has to be allowed to be him/herself.
Going by the definition of freedom, anything goes, except killing another person. This has caused some people to freely drop out of attending Church services. Others have opted to marry as many wives as desired or marry animals, as highlighted previously. That freedom also grants choosing not to be a Christian.
The American Constitution allows conducting one’s life without anyone superintending. But there is a difference between USA freedom and the one prescribed by Jesus. In Jesus, there is more freedom than is provided by the American Constitution. Jesus never proselytized people to follow Him, but emphasized counting the costs, to those attempting to follow Him.
Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:25-33 NIV).
Freedom requires responsibility. Jesus made it clear that anyone deciding to follow Him needed to understand the principle of responsibility. This is just as freedom allows one to touch a hot stove but bear the responsibility, after burning one’s finger. Those following Jesus were not coerced but followed freely.