In Defense of Freedom
Galatians 5:1, 13-20
There was an article in the New York Times in 1999 entitled "Fly Me Away." It was about a travel agency in Milan, Italy, which specializes in a unique type of a "getaway". For most people, getting away means taking a relaxing vacation somewhere. For that, you can use the services of a regular travel agent. But what if the idea of "getting away" is a bit more literal than that? What if you want to escape, or to start your life allover again? Then you want to call the agency in Milan, which is called Happy Expatriation. Umberto Gallini, the owner of Happy Expatriation, created his agency to help those people who want to escape their old life and create a new life for themselves. Not surprisingly, his agents only have to book one-way tickets. A typical customer at Happy Expatriation is a person who wants to leave his or her spouse and start over with a new love, or a person who is running from a large tax bill. Gallini can obtain a whole new identity for his customer, and find them homes and jobs in other countries. He leaves no trail behind. It will be as if the person just disappeared from the face of the earth. Gallini claims that he doesn't work with criminals, but admits he doesn't ask his clients their reasons for wanting a whole new life. He also refuses to discuss the details of how he obtains new identities for these people. As he says, "I'm an agent for people who want to change their life. People are bored. They want to escape they want adventure." Since 1991, he has created whole new lives for over 500 customers.
- The typical idea of "freedom" today, is freedom from responsibility.
- Recently a soldier came to me complaining about his work and how the Army isn’t “fair”—I told him to “Toughen Up, quit belly-aching, and do his job!”
- Escape from responsibility strikes me as a common characteristic of our day; the two most popular TV stars of nineties were are Jerry Seinfield and Ally McBeal. Very different characters: both independent, both single, both selfish and painfully self-centered, both deathly afraid of giving up their freedom.
That is not our founding Fathers meant by freedom, and fortunately these examples are not typical of the average man and woman in uniform, or of the average working American.
- The military today enjoys the respect of the American people, perhaps only second to the end of World War II in the last 50 years.
- For most, there is a noticeable Pride, in the good sense of that word, in the military these days that was not present during and after the Vietnam era.
- From my experience with the military since 1971, I am more confident in the leadership of the Officers and NCOs of our Armed Services; they are more professional, insightful, and better trained.
- Military historians love to point out, it is not technology alone that wins wars, it is military leadership.
Leadership is defined differently today than in the past—it was once understood to be trust in those senior to you, and blind obedience to orders. Now critical thinking is required and ethical decisions are expected. Today’s military thinks through issues, and raises important questions.
- They understand that most of our problems internationally have to be solved politically.
- They understand that economic underdevelopment poses one of the greatest threats to long term peace in the developing nations.
- They are more restrained in the use of military force, and believe that not having to use it, is the greatest victory of all.
- However, unlike the American people who are surveyed in public opinion polls, they are much more willing to sustain casualties and the deaths of American soldiers in a land invasion, if the cause deems it necessary.
The change of the moral base in military leadership was not accidental—it was birthed in the churches of America, and forged into reality by Military Chaplains. The impact of ethics teaching has been so great that last year at Army War College, one Instructor said:
“Military might and economic clout have never been the measure of success in and of themselves. If we do not have a moral foundation as a society that is worth defending, the greatest threat to our survival will not come from without, but from within.”
To ensure the highest possible moral conditions are encouraged and taught, the U.S. Military adopted Seven Values from a biblical study on Leadership produced by the Chaplaincy—these values are Biblically based, and stand as a constant reminder to all of us of the conduct we should demonstrate…
Seven values that spell LDRSHIP, minus a couple vowels): Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
- Our country was founded on a combination of negative freedoms and positive freedoms.
o The negative freedoms- freedom from tyranny, freedom from aristocratic land owners.
§ We are an owner operator nation. We don't want anyone telling us how to run our business. We tried to design a system where everyone could get ahead if they worked at it. We don't want our government telling us how to live. We are our government. Those are negative freedoms that give us autonomy and opportunity.
o Positive freedoms are commitments and convictions that we stand for.
§ Loyalty: Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the military, your unit, and other soldiers.
§ Duty: Fulfill your obligations.
§ Respect: Treat people as they should be treated.
§ Selfless-Service: Put the welfare of the nations, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.
§ Honor: Live up to all these values
§ Integrity: Do what is right, legally and morally.
§ Personal Courage: Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical and Moral).
Whether you are looking at Military Values, or the values of the average civilian in America; there is a common foundation from which they came:
Galatians 5:1,13-26 (NLT)
1 So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
o The fact that Christ Jesus has set us free from OT rituals and laws, is a basic foundation of our faith…freedom is the basis of the Gospel!
o That basic drive for free worship is what drove our founding Fathers to establish “one nation under God”!
§ It has been said that our government was “Set up by genius’ so that the worst idiots in power could not ultimately mess it up!”
o Freedom to: 13 …to serve one another in love.
o Freedom to: 14 Love your neighbor as yourself.
o Freedom to: 16 … to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Ten you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
17 The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. 18 But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law. 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
We are free to choose right or wrong—the key to personal integrity is not the choices we plan to make, but the choices we make in the moment of truth!
o Freedom to produce the fruit of the Spirit: 22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
o Freedom not to: 26 …become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.