Is it possible that we are the most free when we select to give up our freedom?
As a teenager at church camp, one year our theme was “Free to be me!” In the years since, I have grown from that theme. Also, I have seen that concept wreck many lives. “Free to be me” can become “Me first.” That was not the intent of the church camp curriculum. “Me first” is the intent of too many of our neighbors and self. Rather than love our neighbor as our self, do we at times love our neighbor after we love our self?
Recently, my son invited my Dad to attend the local middle school Veteran’s Day Breakfast. My Dad served in the Navy in the mid-1960s. According to my Dad, the speaker noted that once a person has answered the call to serve their country, they give up certain freedoms. Any veteran of our armed services can attest to this reality. Either drafted or volunteer, once in the military a person is subject to the chain of command. This initial sacrifice of personal freedom leads to a service that provides our nation’s freedom.
Beyond the chain of command, is the reality of fighting for the person next to you in line. An often reinforced ethic in the military and in sport is our commitment to perform because of the person next to us. We give up some of our freedom because we do not wish to abandon our teammate.
As a fraternity pledge in college, I learned this lesson. As pledging grew more adverse, deeper was our commitment to the men in our pledge class. Easily, I recall a moment when I stepped out of line in protest only to return to the chaos so as to be with my pledge brothers. I experienced being free because I made the choice to endure the suffering with my brothers.
The parents among us know very well the power of sacrifice. These parents willingly give up their own freedom so that their children can know freedom. From sleepless nights to endless duty as taxi driver, parents give away their own freedom so their children may know joy. A wise parent once told me, “if we are saving money while parenting, we are denying our children.” Can you guess her sacrifice?
When Jesus was born, God gave up some measure of freedom that is beyond our imagining so as to be with us. When Jesus was crucified, God gave up a measure of freedom that is beyond our imagining so as to be with us. When Jesus was raised from the dead, God demonstrated a power beyond imagining.
We are blessed to be loved by God who is so powerful and so willing to give to be with us.
What are you willing to give to be with God . . . to be with your neighbor, friend, family?