Americans love the ideals of liberty and justice. Our desire for these principles is so strong that even our pledge of allegiance ends with the expression – “with liberty and justice for all.” So whenever those ideals appear to be in jeopardy, the citizens of America often become quite animated. I do believe that America’s deep desire for liberty and justice is the very reason that there has been so much excitement and concern over the recent Supreme Court nominations. In droves, political action groups and government officials have again positioned themselves for the next contest of confirmation, while many in our nation are anxious to learn how the future associate justice will impact an already divided court. Ultimately, the liberties and standards of justice in our nation are in question. But amidst this highly energized contest, let me offer one important reminder:
Without Christ, the ideals of liberty and justice are a mere myth.
That statement may shock some of you, but it is absolutely true. Let me scrutinize this statement for a moment by first considering the politically charged environment that Christ faced when He walked this earth. In the 1st century A.D., the leaders of the nation of Israel were divided into two basic groups: a socially liberal party (the Sadducees) and a morally conservative party (the Pharisees). Both groups struggled over the rights and freedoms of the people, and the leaders of these parties were often guilty of messaging the laws of the land in order to accomplish their own political ends. Additionally, the real power center of their day had become the council of the Sanhedrin, which was a judiciary comprised of Sadducees and Pharisees. This judicial body of the Sanhedrin was the highest authority in Israel – thus, they were the Supreme Court for all of the people.
Is any of this sounding familiar?
It should, especially since many people of that era also hungered for liberty and justice, for all! Now this brings me to my point about the mythology of liberty and justice. What Christ taught, concerning liberty and justice, was utterly earth-shattering. In one particular instance Christ made a profound declaration to some people who had confidently asserted that they were free men (John 8:33). He said: “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin… if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36). If you need to read that again, please do! Christ’s profound statement could pass you by if you’re not careful. What the Lord states here is crucial: 1. Men, of whom all are sinners (Romans 3:23), are slaves, and 2. Christ, and Christ alone, is the only hope for true freedom – period. Consider the implications of these truths for a moment.
If a man could amass an entire world of social and political freedoms; if he could singularly select the next president, the president’s cabinet, every senator and congressman, and even the entire body of the Supreme Court, then one might think that such a man is “free.” But if such a man has not trusted Christ as his Savior, for the forgiveness of his sins, then he remains as a slave of sin. The kingdoms of this world can only offer temporal, limited and imperfect forms of liberty and justice. Compared to the true liberty that Christ offers, all that the world can offer is a mere vapor in the wind. And as for the justice of Christ, we must remember that the cross is the centerpiece of all justice for mankind. It is there that Christ, who bore the sins of many (Mark 10:45) and endured the just judgment of God for our sins (1 Peter 2:24, 2 Corinthians 5:21). By Christ’s “one act of righteousness” on the cross, the many who believe in Him “will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).
Here is true liberty and justice – the liberty and justice of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the only liberty and justice that is eternal, holy, pure, and without defilement such that in future glory, no one will be able to protest, filibuster or amend any of His judgments. Truly, without Christ, the ideals of liberty and justice are a mere myth. But in Christ, there is no greater freedom in the entire universe!
Michael Beasley (Alt. November 16th 2005: Originally published in the Winston Salem Journal on August 5th 2005).