Love trumps our personal freedoms

I was thinking about who would most be against mandatory social distancing.  Human rights and social liberties advocates.  I don’t think we’ll be hearing much from them for the next few months. Don’t get me wrong. I love my social freedoms and liberties. Freedom and liberties are something we value in the free world.

Spring Break crowds gathered at Eighth Street beach in Miami Beach last weekend. 

 

The idea of mandatory social distancing would seem to go against the ideals of civil liberties.  One’s personal liberties is something we ought not to abuse. 

Is there a limit to our freedoms?  I would certainly think so. 

Is it a human right to walk around and do anything we want in any or every situation?  I doubt it. 

Freedom is a concept but only a concept when we consider life and death.  To refute the call to social distancing potentially puts many lives at risk by increasing the likelihood of spreading the virus.

If I put my personal freedom ahead of the life of my aging parents or grandparents with weaker immune systems (or yours for that matter) would I then be abusing my personal freedom?  You’d likely say, “Yes”, especially if it were your own grandparents who contracted COVID-19.

This past week during spring break, thousands of young people lined the beaches in Florida.  Later, they were all turned away and told to go home.  Beaches closed.

To me, what these young people did was a flagrant abuse of personal freedoms.  There’s a serious potential of endangering the lives of many people.  Apologies if you were one of these people but I’ve got to say it. Some got around the beach closures by having house parties indoors–away from public eyes–thus, refuting the call for social isolation. Sure you have the freedom to do this, but you could unknowingly pass on the virus to each other and then bring it home to your parents, grandparents or other friends and family members.

If everyone chose to abuse our freedoms and liberties, we would certain become like Italy and surpass their numbers of death. That would be scary.

So is there a limit to personal freedoms?  You bet.

Love for our neighbors is what we need to gauge ourselves by. We need to care for one another by considering the safety of others over our own desires or inconveniences. Love and genuine care and concern for others ought to trump our personal freedoms.

Of truth, freedom and culture

As people yearning for freedom, we value and appreciate our liberties like freedom of religion, speech, assembly, the press, etc. Liberties and freedoms are a natural outcome of a moral people. To get there, we need to take the right path.  Jules Renard said,

Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice.

However, to make the right choice, we need to live in the light and see truth. Light and truth, however, is revealed by Nature’s Maker.

Without the Truth, people will live in darkness. Unfortunately, around the world, societies do still live in darkness. In the past, many freedoms around the world have been lost due to wrong choices. One such nation might be North Korea. Others might be some unnamed African nations where one dictator succeeds another and whose results are no better than his predecessor’s. Today, in the west, our freedoms are slowly eroding (e.g., freedom to pray in public spaces; facebook and google’s abuse of private information).

The solution. We need a just and moral people who live in truth and light to work in their vocations as a holy calling. Each person has been given a vocation and we should not take it lightly. In whatever vocation God has called you into, you are to always bring light. Light shatters the darkness so that truth may freely inform each others’ human experiences, allowing humanity to continue remaining in freedom. The alternative would be enslavement to darkness.

God is calling a just and moral members of society to be leaders in our homes, classrooms, courtrooms, legislatures and business marketplaces. We have a responsibility to speak the truth, whether as private citizens; or as the media/press in the public sphere. This is our calling: to convey truth, in our houses of worship, in government, in courts, in media, in schools, in all places at all times.  Jesus said in John 8:31-32:

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

He was actually speaking in the context of salvation but my point I borrow this for is this: there is an inherent sense of freedom experienced when we share the truth. Hopefully, it is truth that dispels the darkness that prevails in some corners of our society and in the world. This is a mission that we are called to take on. May we strive to bring freedom, liberty and truth into our culture and society.

Truth of the gospel brings freedom

As Christians, we love our social freedoms–freedom of religion, of assembly, of the press, to name a few.  Freedom is a natural outcome of the Christian gospel. Back on February 1st, it was National Freedom Day in the USA, but many do not understand where these liberties in our free world came from.

I’m considered an early generation of millennials and attended several liberal arts universities. We, as others in the western world, have been subjected to an indoctrination and propaganda of untruths and lies in our education systems.  This flowed into how the mainstream mainstream media viewed the world.  The end result was a generation of socialists. I’m a fruit of this but thank God it was the Church that brought me back into a Christian worldview. As Christians, we have lost ground.  Socialism and other religious thought dominate this generation’s philosophical outlook on the world. This can only be countered when we teach the good news; otherwise, we might be in danger of losing our God-given freedoms.

In a democratic society, the conservatives and liberals ought to mutually respect the people’s decision of their elected national leader. In Jan. 2017, media attacks on President Trump incited riots and vandalism.  I was very much saddened to see how the left-wing media had created a division in America. Thank God Trump did not just “suck it up.” I think the left needs to own up to their divisiveness.

We need a correction in mainstream media and how universities teach our young people. This day will come one day, as the truth sets people free.  As Christians, God calls us to set the prisoners free and be salt and light in a dark world. Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).  He was speaking in terms of salvation but the point here is that there is an inherent sense of freedom experienced when we share the truth of the good news of Christ.  Truth must be spoken by all as private citizens, as well as, by the media/press in the public sphere. We have a responsibility to convey the truth in whether it’s in the church, government, the courts, the media, in schools, in all places at all times.

givemefreedomFrom within God’s kingdom, God will be calling law-abiding, Christ-loving people who are truth-tellers to lead society in our classrooms, the courtrooms, and legislatures.  The church and the truth we hold dear in the Gospel of Jesus Christ need to intersect with society so that people can come out from under a veil of darkness.  The truth can and will set people free.

Enslavement to materialism vs freedom for the human spirit

I’m sitting here in Starbucks enjoying a cup of coffee (Pike Place roast). This relaxing [in]activity gives me an opportunity to do a little self-reflection. Seems like it’s not often I get to do this these days.  While on vacation in Vancouver (my birth place), I noticed some changes since I moved away from this city many years ago: old buildings and houses torn down to make place for new buildings; increased real estate prices; lots of fancy cars; good food; and etc–all the fanciful things one would want to satisfy a carnal life.  What has not changed are things like: damp weather caused by rain-cloud covered skies; green trees & grass; the rush of people and traffic; and the beautiful mountains and ocean sitting in the background.

What seems to have changed the least and also the most, are people’s self-perceived need for material things.  On one hand, materialism has always been prevalent in the heart of humanity.  On the other hand, materialism has never been as popular as it is today.  When lives seem empty, we try to fill it with things, and more things.  Such things might be things-to-do and material things—all to satisfy our need for affluence, status, and pleasure.  Why?  Someone once said:

“Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” – anonymous-

Mahatma Gandhi said:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

How true?!  We  try to spend money to buy things to impress people and/or gain status.  We think that status, affluence and pleasure come from having more material things.  This is a deception.  When human beings chase after the material things of this life, this chase can take forever and never have an end to it.

The sad thing is that the Christian church has also fallen prey to this deception.  Many of us Christians have grown up listening to the false and twisted gospel of prosperity—that God gives to those who help themselves.  Some actually think this is a quote from the bible.  What has happened to our Christian understanding that discipleship involves suffering and sacrificial giving?  Jesus’ message of the cross has been forgotten.

How did we become so ignorant of what brings true happiness and freedom?  When we began to believe that our security comes from having enough money and material possessions.  Rather than being liberated and free from material things, we have become enslaved to it.  Materialism, the idol of the 21st century, is an endless and futile chase for things that can never satisfy our human spirit.  When our inner human spirit (which is immaterial and created for spiritual things) becomes dependent upon earthly things (which is material), we become self-enslaved to an insatiable desire for more material things.

The love of money and material things is a distraction to the kingdom of God. Regarding the kingdom of God, St. Paul the Apostle said:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The love of money and material things is a distraction to the kingdom of God.  If Christians are to have a clearer understanding of the kingdom of God, we must realize that our spiritual nature was created to live in fellowship with the Spirit of God.  Such is the will of God.  Holy Scripture also says:

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for [Jesus] has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The Spirit of Christ wants to fill humanity with himself in order that we may live in unity with our Creator God.  When Christ enters our lives, the Spirit of God becomes our endless source of joy and freedom.  God is humanity’s only and final source to true fulfillment.  Spending more time to contemplate upon such things of God’s kingdom affords one the opportunity to seek the things of God.  Allow the Spirit of God to fill you with more of God’s Self.