…there is Liberty.

Quarantine is not about your freedoms being taken away. It’s about liberty. Liberty says that I am free as long as my actions do not infringe upon or take away the freedom of others.

We’re doing a new thing. It’s called self-quarantine. We’ve no context for what this means for our future. We’ve never experienced anything globally such as this. We have never experienced anything in our country, our state, our community such as this. The closest my family has come to self-quarantine was the Chickenpox and those quarantined were under 4 feet tall with no drivers’ license, job or responsibility other than making their own bed and picking up their toys.

The Chickenpox was a bit of an inconvenience but nothing more. My kids were itchy and have a few faded scars but other than that our life as a family returned to normal very quickly.

Today we are self-quarantined. Many people are under a mandatory quarantine; only permitted to leave their homes for the necessities of food and medical needs. It seems our state may be heading, very quickly, in that direction. Americans have never known this type of constraint of freedom on a large scale. We, Americans, pride ourselves on our freedoms. We live in a “Free country.” We are free to make our own choices and we resist the government telling us what we can and cannot do with our money, speech, bodies, time etc. We are free to choose. Our state motto is “Live Free or Die.” The idea of quarantine stirs up the perception of loss of Constitutional freedom and produces an inclination to defy the heavy hand of government and defend freedoms.

And so we live in a growing culture of fear. Fear of contracting Covid-19. Fear of spreading the virus. Fear of losing our jobs. Fear of economic crash. Fear of losing control. Fear of losing our freedom.

Dictionary.com defines Fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by a belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or threat and defines Freedom as the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Liberty is not exactly the same as freedom though we use the words interchangeably. Liberty is a type or a subset of freedom that carries with it responsibility and duty. It’s the responsible use of freedom; a freedom with boundaries that are considerate of the freedom of others. It does not act selfishly but for the good of others.

Let us turn our focus to Liberty.

This is true liberty:

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good but the good of his neighbor.

Quarantine is not about your freedoms being taken away. It’s about liberty. Liberty says that I am free as long as my actions do not infringe upon or take away the freedom of others. Can we look at this through the eyes of Liberty and with that freedom, love and consider others before and above ourselves?

Let us willingly, fearlessly, obey the strong suggestions, requests and orders of our leaders. Romans 13 says we all must obey those who rule over us. Those in authority serve God. It’s a conscious, humble act of submission to authority. God did not offer this up as an option. It’s a command. Honor God by honoring those in authority. Romans 13 goes on to remind us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that love does no harm to his neighbor. Can our love be identified in our obedience?

As men and women, brothers and sister in Christ, I encourage you to open the hand that clutches tightly to the fears that so easily overwhelm us and grab hold of Jesus, the anchor of our soul and our hope. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have said these things so that you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Now the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor. 3:17

Where the Spirit of the Lord is…

The Cost of Sacrifice

You and I are going to pay for it. Somehow, in some way sacrifice, by definition, is going to cost us something.

Have you ever offered to help someone, given someone something, used your gifts and talents to bless someone, volunteered in places that you don’t love or gone completely out of your comfort zone for the sake of another?  There might be a need you’re willing to fill.   You choose it.  You have an idea of what that will look like and how much you are willing to give.  Your heart desires to be generous with whatever you give.  And then…something happens.  The need is greater than first presented which transitions into the sacrifice being greater.

Let’s say you volunteered to spend the day helping a neighbor do yard work.  You know you have a free day and while you’d rather spend it doing anything else, you offer up that day to help them.  That’s definitely a worthy sacrifice.  But what if, while they appreciate your weekend offer, they really need you in the middle of the week.  You have a job.  You CAN take a day off but do you really want to waste a vacation day on something that doesn’t even benefit you?  Of even great consequence, what if you have used all your vacation time and you would have to take the day unpaid?  Now we’re talking sacrifice!

The disciples left everything to follow Jesus.  (Mark 10:28)  They were sold out for Jesus and yet, they didn’t really understand what “everything” meant.  They knew it cost them their jobs, possibly their friends and family and even their reputations but it wasn’t until Jesus was arrested did they realize it could cost them their lives.  It was at the restoration of Peter (John 21:18) that Jesus assured him that it would cost him his life.  The price of following Jesus was ultimate.

That wasn’t what they thought they signed up for in the beginning.  They followed a man who they came to understand and believe was the Son of God who preached a gospel of Grace, who loved and cared for people, who performed miracle upon miracle for the good of the people and glory of the Father.  This was more costly than they had anticipated.

Merriam Webster defines sacrifice as the surrender of something for the sake of something else.  Sacrifice does not have a payback or reward.  When we truly sacrifice, we have no expectation of personal gain.  It’s not a barter system.  It’s a selfless act for the sake of another.

When the need is great the sacrifice is great.

2 Samuel 24:24  I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.

As the story unfolds, David commands that the people be numbered.   In that, there was sin.  He had chosen a consequence that, up to that point, cost him nothing.  Neither he nor his family paid the price for his sin.  The plague and the pestilence had been visited upon the Israelites and 70,000 were dead.  When David beheld the image of the Angel of the Lord, battle ready with sword in hand, he dropped to his face before the Lord.  The reality of his sin had penetrated his heart.  He pleaded to God to spare the Israelites and to let him and his family bear the burden of punishment.  Again, up until this point he had chosen a consequence that cost him nothing.

David did as the Lord instructed and went to the threshing floor of Araunah to build an altar to the Lord to avert the plague from his people.  When he offered to buy it, Araunah told him to take it and the oxen and wood for the fire.  That’s when David told him he needed to pay for it.  David’s statement in 2 Samuel 24:24 was clarifying.

What a powerful visual!  Do you see it?  The picture of laying it down for the good of others and the glory of God is displayed on the canvas of 2 Samuel 24.  David had to pay for it.  You and I are going to pay for it.  Somehow, in some way sacrifice, by definition, is going to cost us something.  We have example upon example of people in the Bible who  sacrificed everything for the good of others and the glory of God.  Jesus is our greatest example.

Ephesians 5:2  And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

When we offer our time, talents and resources to aid another, we are ultimately offering it up to God as a service and sacrifice to Him.  We serve God by serving others.  When He is our audience it becomes our delight to serve.   In this there is eternal value; for the good of others and the glory of God.

Greater love demands greater sacrifice.  How great is your love?  How great are your sacrifices?

Greater love has no man…