Kolar: The believer’s freedom

"I would rather be wholly and completely dependent on Jesus than claim any kind of independence. I need Jesus," writes Janel Kolar.

Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the Pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, N.D. (Contributed photo)
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1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV) — “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”— but not everything is constructive.”

As we approach “Independence Day” – the celebration of American’s independence and freedom, perhaps those of us who follow Jesus and live as God’s children should re-think our ideas about what it means to be “free”. What would our world look like if, instead of focusing all of our attention on what we are personally free to do, we focused all of our attention on what is beneficial and/or constructive.

I have the right to do a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean I should or will ever do them. I learned a long time ago that with rights, come responsibilities. As people of faith, our rights have to be weighed against what we are called to do as followers of Jesus. We have to consider the heart of our God, not just the letter of any law. Afterall, our freedom does not come from a governing agency, from a country, state or city. Our freedom was procured by Jesus himself, and our response must be appropriate and relevant to the Way he set before us.

We have all kinds of freedoms as people living in the United States. We are allowed to do all kinds of things. But that doesn’t mean we should. If they are not beneficial or constructive, perhaps they are better left undone. If we are well within our rights but not acting in love and kindness, like Jesus did, we might have taken our “independence” a little too far and could be rejecting our dependence on our Savior and Redeemer? Are we willing to declare ourselves that independent? That free?

For my part, I would rather be wholly and completely dependent (on Jesus) than claim any kind of independence. I need Jesus. I need the Way he taught, the truths he told, the life he leads us to live. I need to depend on his words and his Spirit in order to truly be free.


Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be celebrating our country’s independence from the rule of other countries just like most Americans. But I think we need to be careful with the freedom living in the United States affords us and do our best to remember we are dependent on Christ, not independent to be on our own. We are free because of the sacrificial love of God, not because of anything we have declared for ourselves. And we can do whatever is within our rights, but if it isn’t beneficial or constructive, it’s not something God wants for us. A believer’s freedom is quite different than the freedom we declare as a country – it requires discernment and prayer and a whole lot of love for God and our neighbor, not just ourselves.

Related Topics: FAITH
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