Thursday, July 1, 2010

Right to Liberty

By: Lisa Karon Richardson

I love the verse that Deb quoted in her Sunday devotion. (Thanks, BTW for stealing my thunder Deb!!) When the time came for Jesus to declare himself openly in his home town he read scripture.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18, ESV)

Those within hearing knew that he wasn’t just doing some innocuous Sabbath day teaching. Nothing Jesus did was an accident and this selection was carefully snipped off in the middle of the prophecy. He made it clear that he was donning the mantle of Messiah. He was the ‘me’ of the scripture. He boldly stated his purpose to all and sundry. And they marveled at him. Total jaw-hanging open shock.

I love that Jesus’ primary objective was to bring liberty. It strikes such a chord in me. Maybe because as Americans, liberty is ingrained as a sort of virtue. The image of chains being loosed is so incredibly powerful. It embodies the message of the gospel through eras and ages, across borders and cultures and barriers. It resonates because everyone has come to a place in their life where they’ve felt bound by circumstance, by their own inability, by other people.

I love that the ESV used the word liberty in this verse rather than freedom. Freedom is the absence of restraint or compulsion. But liberty is a broader word in a way. It implies the power to choose between alternatives.

Because God offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice we can find liberty. We have access to a new nature. We no longer are bound to sin. We can choose to be overcomers.

With choice comes a lot of responsibility though. True liberty is a little scary because it carries within it the possibility of failure. When we are faced with choices it becomes possible to make the wrong choice.

Liberty requires risk.

The founding fathers didn’t guarantee happiness. Although some interpreters seem to think that the government needs to provide everything for its citizens from TV’s and internet service, to healthcare, so that they can all be happy. As if things provide happiness.

No, what the founding fathers promised was the right to pursue happiness. Pursuit requires movement, which in turn can only come from a series of decisions. We decide to get up off our duffs, (or in my case sit down on my duff and write.) We decide in which direction we feel happiness lies. We decide the pace of our travel. Because the pursuit remains in our hands, so does the ultimate outcome, good or bad.

The philosophy of personal responsibility is fading from our society, but down that path lies slavery. When we become too removed from the consequences of our actions liberty is squandered and will be lost. We’ll give it away in order to keep those consequences at bay a little longer.

Jesus is still proclaiming the time of liberty. We live under grace rather than the law. The question is what do we do with that liberty? How do we use the gift entrusted to us? What are we risking? In America we have the Right to Liberty. What are we doing with it?

Have you ever been allowed to make a mistake that someone could have prevented? Did you learn anything from it?


  1. WOW! I'm the first one up today! Kidding.
    Lisa, this is great. Distinguishing between freedom and liberty is powerful! I think I'll be using this Sunday for our Bible study!

  2. My thought on the 'ever been allowed to make a mistake' was:
    my mother let me get lost in a store when I was a child but kept an eye on me from afar. I guess I was supposed to learn a lesson. She thinks I did.
    Of course, I had recurring nightmares about being lost in a store as I grew up. She gave me the 'right to liberty'!

    Hey now, Lisa. You can look at my use of Jesus' liberty quote as warming up your audience!

    To our guests: Lisa will be checking in later. As you may know, she's unusually good about hovering around the Inkwell!

    I think it's a great question to ask, 'what are we doing with our liberty'? I'm not pointing fingers, believe me!

  3. I wanted to say thanks to our commenters this week. We love our lurkers but commenting lets us know we're not just chatting among ourselves!

    Thanks, T.Anne, Maria, Carla, Adge, Missy, Angie, Tabitha and Bex. Yes, we recognize you when you visit!

  4. Excellent post, Lisa. This reminds me so much of the Christ Tomlin song we sing in church:
    Amazing Grace, The Chains Are Gone:
    My chains are gone
    I've been set free
    My God, my Savior has ransomed me
    And like a flood His mercy rains
    Unending love, Amazing grace

    Here's a video of it:
    Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone

    Not sure if I've been allowed to make a mistake which could have been prevented because my parents kept a very tight rein on me.

    However, I've allowed my kids to make mistakes when I could have prevented them. Well, except for the ones which would have entailed a huge monetary outlay. :)


  5. I like to allow my children liberty whenever I can. Someone always learns something. Sometimes they learn they aren't ready for something or that it isn't good for them. And sometimes I learn that they are ready for it, or that it isn't bad for them afterall.

    I like the scripture "It is for freedom you've been made free." Like freedom itself is worth being made free for.

  6. Amen, Lisa!

    I learned much in my life from being allowed to make mistakes and I have tried to raise my kids the same way. But sometimes it is hard for parents to live with the consequences a child must endure to learn. Not easy, but well worth it. I want them (and me!) to understand that with liberty comes great responsibility!

  7. Hi girls,

    Thanks so much for holding down the fort for me today. I'm sitting in a hotel in Kentucky. We just got in from my grandfather-in-law's funeral.

    He was a a real hero. He served in WWII as a reconnaissance soldier. His unit had a 176% mortality rate. Yet God brought him through. He came to the Lord after struggling with PTSD and alcohol, and faith changed him. He was a spiritual giant. I was greatly blessed to know him. He pastored and then evangelized and at the age of 38 became a missionary. First to the Philippines and then pioneered a work in Madagascar. He returned to the US in the 80's because of heart problems. After receiving his healing he tried twice more to retire, but wound up serving the Lord by pastoring twice more. His retirement didn't stick until 2005 at the age of 83.

    As a direct result of his ministry in Madagascar there are now over 158,000 constituents of the church that he founded. Many more countless thousands of lives have been changed because Denzill Richardson made a choice to use the liberty Jesus purchased for him, to do something of eternal value in the kingdom.

    We're sad only because we'll miss him. I know he wouldn't come back to this earth for anything.

    Welcome home, Grandpa. Welcome home.

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