Words such as freedom, liberty and independence have a nuanced ambiguity inherent in their meaning. For example, are we free from something or to something or both? Is liberty unrestricted or restrictive, begging the question of liberty’s true meaning and value? Is the meaning of independence specific to a historical event, or is it something to aspire to in perpetuity?
With the untimely recent passing of apologist, pastor, and author Tim Keller, I returned to his classic work, Every Good Endeavor 1 and a section on freedom. He refers to the proposition that “modern people like to see freedom as the complete absence of any constraints”, and continues to demonstrate (using examples of fish in water, airplanes in air, etc.) that “…freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones, ones that fit with the realities of our own nature and those of the world” (page 39). In a similar manner, the commandments of God are a means of liberation because through these parameters, God has provided the context for authentic and prosperous living.
American citizens have been free from the domination of England for more than 200 years, but the Founding Fathers and legislative bodies have since created another reality which developed its own constraints within which to function. This then allowed for personal freedom within the context of the emerging American experiment. We may be free from England, but are we also free to work diligently toward what God has created us to be?
What does all this mean for Business as Mission with its four-fold mandate to:
- Create jobs. In a suffering world of injustice, unemployment, poverty, and despair we are free to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12: 30, 31) by providing the dignity of respectable work, as we reflect the image of God. As Dorothy Sayers affirms, “…work is not primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do” – for the greater glory of God.2
- Be profitable and sustainable within the context of God’s design for wealth creation (Deut 8:18). The pilgrims of Massachusetts partnered with English businesspeople for the financing of their efforts, returning the loan with the products of the New England land such as beaver furs and whaling products.3
- Similarly, modern business must have customers who desire viable products, so both the provider and customer profit. God desires humankind to be free to accomplish this end-goal of business.
- Make followers of Jesus, who cared for the human condition as well as the eternal salvation of individuals. As jobs demonstrate God’s care, the promise of eternal salvation provides peace and a relationship with a holy God. True freedom allows for each person to choose his/her response to God’s way (Joshua 24:15).
- Respect and steward creation. As in Keller’s analogy, fish are free within the context of water and if a fish is “freed” to jump on to grass to explore his new freedom, he is soon destroyed and thus less free. We are free to respect and steward all of creation as a basic freedom, or we are free to abuse the resources of the earth created by God and thus lose something of importance. See IBEC blog of June 12, 2023.4
1 Keller, Timothy. Every Good Endeavor, Penguin Group, New York: 2012
2 Keller, Timothy. Every Good Endeavor, page 38
Want to take a few minutes to watch three patriotic videos and two videos on the freedom we have in Jesus?
Country megastar Martina McBride sings God bless America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yC1Zbbe0SM.
The Texas Tenors singing God bless the USA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daqwGRdRIsk
Carrie Underwood singing the national anthem at a hockey game (her husband is captain of the Nashville Predators) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muda6LPMhj0
The Newsboys sing I am Free https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC-IKxwJQ68
A great Charles Wesley classic of freedom in Christ, And Can it Be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQeIGbKqiw8
Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures