Objection Overruled: Objection 2: Christianity stifles personal freedom

Call to Worship: John 8:34-36 and 1 Corinthians 6:12

Run these two passages together—e.g., "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed...Am I not free?")

Law: Galatians 5:1-15

This passage deals with Christian freedom and obligation.

Assurance of Pardon: Isaiah 61:1-3

This is a tremendously liberating passage!

Hymn of Gratitude: "Make Me a Captive, Lord"
[PsH 546, PH 378, RL 442, TH 687]

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:11-25

This passage seems filled with rules. However, as the sermon will show, all Christian rules seek to build the human community, and are therefore not restrictive, but freedom-engendering. They promote the love that we humans need, just as fish need water.

Sermon Outline

  1. Concede that many Christians do seem burdened by an array of meaningless and even absurd rules. Give some examples, preferably humorous ones. You'll find a serious example in Dos-toyevsky's chapter on "the Grand Inquisitor" in his novel The Brothers Karamazov.

  2. Ask the congregation point-blank what impression they are giving their acquaintances: one of joyous freedom in Christ, or one of pent-up, repressed living? (A prior confidential survey among the young people concerning their impressions of foolish rules would be helpful here.)
  3. And yet, what is freedom? What about the fish in the ocean who wanted to be free and jumped ashore? What is the human aquarium?
  4. Love is the first element in the human aquarium.
  5. Even humanists could agree with the point made in 4. But Christianity adds another element. The ultimate kind of love involves a willingness to suffer with and for others. It is therefore the ultimate description of the human aquarium (the suffering of Christ himself, nonviolent resistance, etc.). Freedom is found, not destroyed, when we exhibit a loving and compassionate suffering toward others. This combination should be the foundation of all the rules we make and live by. Give some examples.
  6. Conclude again with one of the verses of the call to worship, 1 Corinthians 6:12. Aggressively mock some of the alleged worldly "freedoms" that actually lead to despair and disaster. End on a completely non-apologetic note, celebrating the joy of true freedom in Christ.

Hymn of Response: "Make Me a Captive, Lord"

Singing this song a second time will make the irony take on even more meaning.
[PsH 546, PH 378, RL 442, TH 687]

Responsive Readings:

Options include Jeremiah 31:33-34, Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 86, or paragraphs from Martin Luther on "freedom in Christ."

Congregational Prayer:

Give thanks for our freedom, and pray for freedom for the oppressed, globally and locally.

Offertory Prayer (or hymn):

"Freely you have received, freely give."

Prayer of Confession:

Confess that we often prefer legalism to living by the Spirit and therefore give a poor impression of Christianity to our neighbors.


Nick Overduin is pastor of First Christian Reformed Church, Toronto, Ontario.


Reformed Worship 28 © June 1993 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.