The love of liberty is a feeling we begin to experience in childhood, with impatience at the control exercised over us by parents, teachers, and other adult leaders. We become adults, excited at the prospect of freedom, only to realize we are always under someone’s control. We are not free to show up at work whenever we want, to drive as fast as we please, to earn money without paying taxes. If we break the rules, there are consequences.
Yet we’re told we have freedom in Christ. How can we be free as long as we’re subject to earthly rules?
Christ has given us intellectual and moral freedom. We received the gift of truth in its absolute and final fullness, where we may know the Father, manifested in his Son. Through his sacrifice we were made free of the chains that bound us of sin. Though we live under a system of restrictions and obligations, we are free. Those obligations and restrictions only prescribe for us what our own new, heaven-sent nature would wish to do and to be.
As a child, we may have had a teacher we didn’t particularly like. But we were likely told by our parents that we needed to show her respect. God calls us all to “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17). In doing so, we are not only honoring our Heavenly Father, we are actually exercising our freedom in Christ. “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:15). Back to the child, whose disrespect of a teacher will only serve to present himself as undisciplined and ill-mannered. As Christians, our respect of authority serves to present ourselves as righteous and holy before God. This is freedom in Christ.
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. -1 Peter 2:16 (NLT)