|Volume 19 Number 1 January 2017||
We are all familiar with the Statue of Liberty that is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The copper statue measures 305 feet and 1 inch from ground level to the torch. To those seeking liberty and the American way, she (Lady Liberty) is a welcome sight. The Statue of Liberty is on the east coast of the United States. Some people want to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle are being considered for locations for this structure. The 305 foot Statue of Responsibility would be much more than just a bookend to the Statue of Liberty. The prototype of this proposed structure consists of a pair of clasped hands oriented vertically symbolizing the responsibility that comes with liberty.
The original idea of the Statue of Responsibility was the vision of world renowned Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who survived the Holocaust and went on to publish the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In this work, published in 1946, he expressed his vision like this:
Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.
Dr. Frankl enjoyed his time spent in America and admired much about it. However, he took exception to what appeared to be a commonly accepted view of equating freedom with a license to do virtually anything one wants. The concept of liberty and responsibility are not foreign to the Bible. One can find the inscription on the Liberty Bell in Leviticus 25:10, “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” In regards to spiritual liberty, Isaiah 61:1 was read by Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth. Notice Luke 4:17-19, which reads, “…The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” This was fulfilled in Jesus.
In the above discussion of liberty and responsibility, Viktor Frankl made a powerful observation that liberty is not a license to do anything one wants. The concept that liberty is not a license is not new. The apostle Paul penned these inspired words long before thoughts of building the Statue of Responsibility were conceived. Galatians 5:1 records, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,” and Galatians 5:13 says, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh…”
Physically, we may look at the Statue of Liberty and be reminded of the responsibility of freedom. Spiritually, may we also look into “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) and know we are set free from our bondage of sin through obedience to the Gospel plan of salvation, not to do anything we please, but being mindful that with freedom comes responsibility.
Gary C. Hampton
Brotherly love is proof of one’s discipleship (Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:32; Hebrews 13:1; John 13:35). Christians should be examples to one another in the area of showing respect and honor. A Christian should not long for personal honor, but should give honor to his brethren.
Christians should not be lazy, but give their best by serving the Lord in all they do (Colossians 3:22-24, 17). The hope of heaven, enhanced by constant prayer, should give joy even in hard times (1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:4). Every Christian should use his blessings to help brethren and others in need (Matthew 25:41, 45; Galatians 6:10; James 1:27). Each should be ready to take in strangers, providing for their needs (Romans 12:11-13; Matthew 25:40; Hebrews 13:2).
Christ’s followers will suffer persecution, yet they must return good for evil (2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 5:44-45; Luke 23:34). Shepherd says, “It is the duty of the Christians so to teach and so to live as to commend himself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (II Corinthians 4:2), and thus compel the inward respect of even the wicked for his sincerity and consistency.” Members of the body should rejoice in one another’s triumphs and suffer in one another’s pain, achieved by being of one mind. Believers should not be carried away with seeking high social position, but they should associate with the humble, not being proud of their own wisdom (Romans 12:14-16; Matthew 8:20).
Disciples of Jesus should not allow evil actions of others to drive them to evil works. God’s children will seek opportunities to do good, giving God the glory (Matthew 5:16). They should work to avoid conflict, especially in the church, quietly enduring suffering and leaving vengeance to God (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Deuteronomy 32:35). Each believer should provide for the needs of his enemy, making him ashamed of his bad attitude. He should overcome evil with good rather than being overcome by evil (Romans 12:17-21).
Praise God for the family of God comprised of people putting their Christianity to work and encouraging their brothers to do the same!