The source of all freedom, all human liberty, is faith in Jesus Christ. All our notions of what it means to be free begin with God and were exemplified in Christ. The leaders of the Reformation, Renaissance, and Enlightenment understood this, and they said & did what they did based on this knowledge.
Centuries before, Paul and Peter understood this. Peter had walked with Jesus for three years, learning ministry and humanity from Him. Jesus confronted Paul when the latter was knee-deep in persecuting Christians, and changed his heart to become zealous for evangelism. They had personally felt being freed, being released from their sins. And they had learned from the Master how this freedom was a cherished something to share with others.
Knowing all that, they had learned to value freedom by using their freedom to serve. Both men eventually gave their lives in service to the Lord, but only after spending decades starting churches, mentoring leaders, and converting unbelievers to faith in the Jesus they knew. Peter especially could have turned his back on the faith once Jesus was gone; after all, Israel (as a nation) had spent a thousand years doing just that. After every revival, moral judge, or wise leader, a new generation arose that rejected the wise, moral, Godly leadership, and the nation soon found itself in disaster. It would have been natural for Peter and Paul to walk away.
But they stayed. They realized freedom isn’t free, and libertinism isn’t liberty. Their lives had been so changed by their encounters with Jesus that they refashioned them completely to better serve Him.
People still do that today. Just ask any pastor or called servant. Just ask anyone who lives in the mission field, who works in homeless ministry, who volunteers to serve as a military chaplain. People who submit themselves to serving Christ by serving others understand that freedom comes from God and within us. That it isn’t something invented by humans, or granted by any person, Supreme Court, or government. Freedom is a natural gift from the Lord and is best grown by serving Him. Only by being willing to give up one’s freedom so that Christ may be glorified can we actually be freer than we’ve ever been before. Nothing can take it away; nothing can deny it; even death can’t defeat it. Jesus proved that, winning our liberty so that we might use it to spread His love through the hearts, minds, and actions of servanthood.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 8:9, 1 Corinthians 9:19, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:16, Galatians 5:14
Lord Jesus, thank You for my freedom, for showing me that, to be free, I need to surrender fully to You.
If you’d like to know more about Practical Proverbials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information