|Illustration by: Stuart Miles|
The recent events in Paris turn a spotlight on freedom of expression, tolerance, and inclusiveness. The motto of France has a renewed importance for its people: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood).
The attack on the magazine headquarters was horrible. This magazine was targeted because it lampooned religion. In fact, Charlie Hebdo poked fun of all religions. Its satire knew no borders. It criticized everyone and everything.
Ever since those tragic shootings, I’ve been thinking about the concept of personal freedom, the freedom to choose, and the freedom to believe as one wants.
The Bible speaks of personal choices:
- And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).
- For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1:29).
- Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good (Isaiah 7:15).
- For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it (Matthew 16:25).
- And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).
Jesus—God in the flesh—didn’t slam those who refused to accept Him. In fact, when He wept over Jerusalem, one can perceive His sorrow. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37)
There’s a difference between warning of impending judgment (the prophets, John the Baptist, Christ Himself, the apostles) and in slamming others for not agreeing.
Should people have the freedom to believe as they wish? Absolutely.
Should people have the freedom to express themselves? Yes.
Should there be freedom of religion, press, and speech? Of course.
As Christians, should we poke fun of others, cruelly? No. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). We treat others as we would like to be treated. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Luke 6:31).
Should we rejoice in the demise of evil people? No. It’s extremely sad. Every person is important to God. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Let us be thankful for our freedoms, wherever we live. Let us be kind to all people, even those who don’t agree with us. And, let’s rejoice in the Truth.
If the Son therefore shall make you free,
ye shall be free indeed.