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  • Baptist Beacon

What is freedom?

by David Thompson

NASHVILLE, TN – What is Freedom—really? And what are we supposed to do with it?

Robert Frost noted, “Freedom lies in being bold.” That is saying a lot. It also does not imply that freedom is the license to do whatever you want, (even at the expense of others), or the right to be cruel or hateful. This is what “Freedom” is to me, and I pray for most of us. (Even though I am very willing to stand up for your freedom to disagree).

You can probably venture to guess who said these words, ”I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives—I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” – President Abraham Lincoln.

This is the first axiom I wish to espouse is that it should be universally true and worthy of acceptance. It once was in this land…it may be waning now. Since we are free to live over here or up there—do tell me why one would not live where one is proud.

Parenthetically, freedom does not demand you are always safe. Aesop is attributed to this, “It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.” We are the “land of the free and the home of the brave”—are we not? The point is that Freedom does mandate bravery; it does not imply complete safety. By the way, the government was never created to make us feel safe, but only to restrain evil!

It could easily be argued that Frederick Douglas knew something of freedom’s purpose. Said he, “people might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.” Thank you, Mr. Douglas, for the reminder.

God told Adam to work 6 days—then rest. For me, one of the greatest things about freedom is that anyone can work as hard as they want, and are almost guaranteed some measure of success. Some of us (in each age group), including mine, need to get off our “Blessed Assurance” as one pastor noted—and get out there and WORK! It is what makes “FREEDOM”—RING!

This may sound like an oxymoron but what makes freedom beautiful to me is the reality that we are still accountable to one another. If you don’t like or agree with this next quotation, then you are just un-American and hate freedom. Here it goes, “You find sometimes that a Thing which seems very Thing-ish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” Pooh—the house of Pooh!

See there—who can disagree with that? Stop being brainwashed by pundits, false preachers, and whacky politicos. (No one is entitled to their own private reality.)

Freedom is never stifling the truth—WHY? Because Jesus said it best, ”you shall know the truth and the truth shall SET YOU FREE.”! Also, Freedom does not exist so you or I get our way. C.S. Lewis said, ”All get what they want; they do not always like it.”

Our blessed freedoms exist not to make everyone happy, but to give all the opportunity to change—until you are.

Lastly, and this is the absolute greatest thing about freedom, it allows any and all to dream the impossible and achieve the unimaginable. I love what Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expounds, “If your dreams do not scare you…they are not big enough.”

We are a free people of (historically) great dreamers. These brave men and women had an uncanny faith—a faith that could seemingly move mountains. Could that also be because we not only feared our Lord more (then than now), but we believed all His promises at the same time? God told Mary and us, “With God—nothing shall be impossible.”

May a new generation arise that grabs the horns of freedom and never lets go—and once again will stand on the precious promise of almighty God!



Dr. David L. Thompson holds an undergraduate degree from Belmont University in Psychology and Religion, a graduate degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Education, and a doctorate in Counseling and Pastoral Psychology. He has served as a chairman of the Church Planting Group and Executive Committee Chair at the North American Mission Board for 10 years. He has been a Police Chaplain since 1991 and served as a Corporate Chaplain to the Coca Cola Bottling Company in Nashville, Tennessee where he resides with his wife. He has six children and five grandsons.



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