Let us start our discussion of freedom with this question: Does God really exist?
If we consider the contrary view first, that God does not exist, then we understand why many conclude that they have the freedom to gratify themselves as much as possible before death. Self-focus is essential to living without God because the assumption is that there is no life beyond the grave, thus no accountability for how one protects, trains, and cares for fellow human beings.
But if God does exist, and if He is holy, righteous, and just, then we are confident that his future judgment of us will be perfect. Christians are free from bondage to the Mosaic law and condemnation for sin, but not free to live independently of God and His Word. We exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, so biblical freedom isn’t freedom from restraint, but freedom from fear. We joyfully and willingly submit as servants (slaves) of Christ.
As we consider freedom, then, there are three ways I want to parallel our Christian walk with military service to our nation:
- In the Oath of Office taken for military service,
- In the way a military leader gladly surrenders personal freedom so that others in the nation stay safe,
- In the freedom military members find from slavery to comfort and self-preservation.
To begin with, the Oath of Office restricts our freedoms by placing us under the delegated authority of the President of the United States. Some personal freedoms must be surrendered to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and a loss of freedom initially becomes apparent during basic training. The oath is taken freely, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and it drives home the voluntary nature of surrendering our very selves on behalf of the nation.
In like manner, Christians voluntarily submit themselves as slaves to Christ, knowing we have been bought with a price. In response to our adoption as sons and daughters who are co-heirs with Christ, Christian leaders learn to increasingly love God and to love their neighbor. Jesus is our example. Being God Himself, Jesus possessed full freedom about who He would obey and what He would do on earth, yet He took the form of a servant and humbled Himself (Philippians 2:7). He obeyed his Father and so must we.
Second, military leaders express their love for the nation by giving up the freedom of deciding where to live, when to leave home, who they are responsible for, what political leader they’ll submit to, and whether to put their lives on the line. They choose to love their nation and then express it by a willing obedience to the lawful orders of those appointed over them.
The Christian response to God’s great work of adopting us is to express love for the people who are in our community, unit, church, and so on. We understand that we are the hands and feet of God to proclaim Christ so that others may know life through faith in Jesus.
Finally, there is a parallel between military members who are freed from concern for their own comforts and self-preservation in the face of known enemies, and Christians who are freed from their slavery to sin and personal autonomy because our enemy Satan has been defeated. The nation sends its military to stand between them and the enemies who would enslave them, and God sent His Son to deliver us from our bondage to sin and Satan’s deceptions. We are now free to love our neighbors, our nation, and all of creation because we have been brought into right relationship with God the Father. We are free from fear.
This kind of freedom permits us to live in growing obedience before God the Father. Christian leaders are called to hold fast their confession of faith in Christ Jesus without wavering, even in the face of opposition, deprivation, and suffering (Hebrews 10:23). May God the Holy Spirit so fill His people that we never forget to delight in the joy of being Christ’s slaves.
—In hope, Hous & Tami