Jesus Took Away My “Freedom of Speech”…
When Jesus calls us to himself through repentance and faith, he invites us into a lifelong apprenticeship of dying to self, that by his Spirit he might live powerfully through us (Col 3:3, Gal 2:20, 2 Cor 5:14–17). Therefore, when we go all-in with Jesus, we’re effectively surrendering all our “rights” to the service of King Jesus. By faith, we are united to Christ, becoming his very bond servants. The apostle Paul penned it like this, “you were once slaves to sin, but now you are slaves to righteousness, which leads to eternal life” (Romans 6:15–23).
As citizens of a heavenly kingdom, subject to the good rule of King Jesus, “there is no square inch of our human existence that Jesus does not say Mine!” This means that for the Christian there is no place in our lives where we have full freedom to do whatever we feel like, whenever we feel like, however we feel like, with whomever we feel like, wherever we feel like. No, when we come to Christ we are called to submit to his Word as the final authority. Where the Bible speaks, Christ speaks! We cannot say we follow the Word who became flesh and yet fail to flesh out our lives under the full authority of that same holy Word. To follow Christ, is to live in accordance with the scriptures in every area of our lives, including our so-called “freedom of speech”.
Freedom of speech, by definition, is a right given to the citizens of the United States by law. In that sense, freedom of speech is not a biblical concept but a political one specific to a certain time and place in history. There has never been a greater opportunity in history for the world to share and interact with its’ collective thoughts, opinions, convictions on EVERYTHING, like there is now. With the onset of social media and blogging platforms, “freedom of speech” has risen to heights of infinity and beyond! While I really appreciate social media and benefit from blogs and blogging myself, as a follower of Christ, Jesus has graciously taken my “freedom of speech” away!
This is true not only for me but for followers of Jesus everywhere. God created us to know him, serve him and to enjoy him forever in eternity, therefore our freedoms find themselves within the parameters of righteousness. For the Christian, ultimate freedom is found in belonging to Christ (Gal 5:1, 2 Cor 3:17)! As we are united to Christ, the words we speak should be flavored with the Spirit of Christ (Eph 4:29). We are not free to speak whatever we want, opine however we want, or wax eloquently without regard for Christ and his Word. Take a look at Jesus’ warning regarding the words we speak recorded by Matthew in chapter 12:36–37 , “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”(CSB) Whoa, this should help curb any excessive speech liberties we might be inclined to.
If we’re to be held accountable for every careless word we speak, as Jesus says, then we must consider that this also applies to all 140 characters we tweet, every Facebook post, every text message we send, every blog we write, every article we share, every email we craft, and every phone call we field. With all of this in view, a few words of Godly wisdom from the Proverbs seems appropriate. The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23 CSB). This is the way of Jesus and it’s the way of Jesus’s followers.
HOW CAN THIS BE?
In Christ, a new way to be human commenced and he has provided both the power and the parameters to communicate with Grace and Truth (John 1:17). In Christ, our freedom to say anything we want, however we want, whenever we want has been graciously taken away and love has been given as the mode and the aim of our communication (Eph 4:15). If love is both the motivation and the goal of our communication, then we are free to spread the word! If anything other than love of God and love for our fellow man is driving us, then we should press pause and join with the psalmist in praying; “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 CSB), as we ask God to recalibrate our hearts to his.
LOOK TO CHRIST!
When we feel emotionally overwhelmed unable to communicate a single word or crushed spiritually and drained of all hope, may we fix our sights on Jesus in the Gospel and run with endurance the race that lies ahead of us, keeping our focus readily on him, who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith! He endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him!” We are united to Christ and we’ve been called to this! Listen to these words from our brother Peter.
For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins,we might live for righteousness. (1 Peter 2:21–24 CSB)
As we continue to follow Jesus, let’s strive to keep in plain view the truth of the Gospel and the radical implications that we are no longer our own and that every “square inch” of our lives is renewed, redefined, and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.
Christ is all-