Written by: David Shipley
Free to do God’s will is the tagline of MrandMrsShipley.com. It's one of the first lines you read upon visiting this blog. Let me use my first post to explain why this resonates with our family.
The short answer is: Did you know the Bible says, “For you were called to freedom” (Galatians 5:13a)? Crazy idea, right?! God wants people to be free?
It’s an idea worth thinking on. It caught my attention as I studied more on the Ten Commandments, read a commentary by Dennis Prager that he titles The Rational Bible, and found an article by Dan Hitchens at First Things titled “Christian Freedom”. Then I mentioned the phrase in a few sermons and teen Bible classes. And then Mrs. Shipley tagged it on this blog.
Not all choices are the same. Anyone who has transitioned from the ‘anything goes’ teen diet to the ‘I’ll go with something I won't regret later’ adult diet knows this.
I’m a youth minister. I teach and spend time around teens. (I’m currently studying the 10 Commandments with a group of teenagers on Wednesday nights at the 151st Street Church of Christ). This ministry positions me in a space between two perspectives on freedom.
The first perspective on freedom is one we come upon innocently as we grow through childhood and into adolescence. I’ll label this first perspective on freedom very simply as more choices.
The more choices I have, the freer I am. From this perspective, a young person has less freedom than their parent simply because a parent can do whatever they want (supposedly) and teens can’t.
The second, and Christian, perspective on freedom asks: Now that I can choose more, what do I choose? Simply having a choice says very little about my ability, as well as my willingness, to make a good choice and stick with the consequences of that choice. Is the person with the most choices the freest?
The license to drive offers more choices: Where to? Who with? How fast? Sadly, the license itself does not come with the answers.
The free man I aspire to be knows and chooses the thing that brightens Mrs. Shipley’s day. I want to be that man. Still, I often make the more boyish choice simply because I can. The free (and wise) man asks: Ok, will I thank myself later for this choice? Will Mrs. Shipley thank me later?
Freedom in this sense is one who is able to do what is healthy, beneficial or right with the opportunities one is afforded. Dan Hitchens puts it this way: “For Christians, freedom consists not in how many choices you have but in whether you can choose the right thing, the good thing.”
Having more choices is freer; choosing what is right and good is freest. That looks odd when written. But freest is an odd enough word to stick in the mind and it is an idea worth pondering.
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