From Jim O'Brien
May 01, 2020

Duty to Freedom

Hi Friend,

Do Christians have a duty to support justice? Or is it sufficient to accept the status quo, ignore evil and hope it will go away?

The movie National Treasure revolves around a plot to steal one of our nation's most sacred documents, the Declaration of Independence. In a moving scene the main character, Nicolas Cage, stands over the original parchment and quotes from it, "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

He then comments, "We don't talk that way anymore." No, we don't. Our language doesn't flow with the same ease of eloquence. And maybe the meaning of duty to freedom has suffered some as well.

When God instructed Moses to cleanse the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, he told Moses to get a red heifer to offer as a sacrifice. But God would not accept just any heifer-there an important requirement for it to be acceptable.

"This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:" (Numbers 19:2 KJV)

Why does God stipulate that it never was under a yoke? Matthew Henry says it symbolizes the voluntary relationship between Christ and his followers. He offered himself voluntarily and we in turn have a duty to respond. One might say Christians have a duty to throw off despotism because we are servants of Christ. It is a voluntary devotion to the Messiah, our King.

Edward Gibbon wrote in The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, "In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government."

Gibbons is saying that the greatness of Rome was undermined when citizens were made soft by an abundance of wealth and power. It was complacency that caused them to give up freedom. He is saying that people care nothing about liberty as long as they have jobs and prosperity. They accepted a despotic leader because they didn't want to resist. Eventually, says Gibbons, Rome fell when a "...race of giants burst upon the scene and tore down the pigmies the Romans had become and restored a manly spirit of freedom"

What a powerful statement!

It's not always easy being a Christian. Will God bequeath His Kingdom to spiritual pigmies? It requires courage to stand against the current of opinion, sometimes even the opinion of friends. It's part of the cost of freedom.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien