Freedom and Covenant Keeping: Can we do both?
In America there seems to exist an attitude that rebellion and anarchy are good in and of themselves, and obedience to whatever code of honor is bad. Being a child of the 60’s, this idea sounds familiar; our generation coined the term “down with the Establishment.” We saw all people over 30 as a suspect. My generation promulgated this way of thinking. However, as an adult I see the folly in the implications of that view. I have concluded that in promoting anarchy and many other schemes, we were sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, ideas have consequences and they are now rampant in the West.
A long time ago, another generation acted similarly, and the consequence to that was a cataclysmic event that destroyed the known world; a world-wide flood. The flood was the natural consequence for those who decided that the establishment was bad, and that only freedom from that establishment (the covenant with God) was good. What they failed to realize, as we did in the 60’s, is that while some freedom is good, some of the establishment is too.
God’s covenant provides the stability that humans need in order for true freedom to exist. Without God’s prevailing grace, we cannot do anything. We, just like Cain’s descendants, have created a monster. What will it take to wake up this time?
In Genesis 5, we see thousands of years of personal freedom and choice. People lived much longer, in fact almost ten times longer than what we do today. Why was that so? Well, it was not science; it was God wanting His creation to prosper. Though I am sure, just like 21st Century cultures, that society thought it was because they were so great. They were about to learn differently.
Scattered throughout those thousands of years were people “of the covenant,” voices of reason that remembered God. Those voices, probably descendants of Seth, drowned out by the populous, were attempting to apply what should have been common sense and wisdom. I wonder what pressures they faced as they tried to be faithful to a God who some could not see? I say some, because Romans 1:18-20 tells us that built into creation and God’s cultural mandate to interact with it, is an innate ability to know God through that creation. So much so, that God says that all people are without excuse when it comes to seeing Him in creation. People must suppress this knowledge in order to deny God’s existence.
Eventually, we see in Genesis 6, the desecration in 40 days of this self-loving culture. The only exception was one family who had not abandoned God and wisdom. God was going to start over.
Some may ask why God would do this. Is He cruel and against freedom of choice? Is God just mad that we won’t be His friends? Of course not!
God knows, contrary to human popular opinion, that when we violate the covenant we will eventually self-destruct. God doesn’t need us at all, however, His love for us compels Him to be just, and just means that He can be counted on to make things right in His creation, including man.
Covenants with God are covenants that prevent man from using his own foolishness to ruin himself and everything around him. God will only let it go so far. God, knowing man better than man does, provides limits for man’s good. God desires relationship. Relationships necessitate limits on self-indulgence. That, unlike man’s pleasure-seeking view of it, is true freedom. A freedom meant to achieve love and community. Hedonism avoids both. So what does your life look like? Are you a freedom fighter or a covenant keeper, can you be both? Is your life about community or self?