“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
America’s Idol, by Randall D. Kittle


Like most men born and raised in America, I have always enjoyed watching football. While I don’t have the time to watch many football games anymore, there is one big game I never miss — the Super Bowl. This year I had made simple plans to watch the game with my immediate family and the usual arsenal of snacks.

But as I sat watching the Super Bowl, suddenly my closest friend stopped by unannounced. There was no denying the familiar feeling of the presence of the Lord. I was both excited and perplexed, “Why was the Lord's tangible presence here with me just minutes before kick-off?” I wondered to myself.

The Lord then spoke to me, asking
“Do you know what is the biggest idol in America?” I was so shocked I forgot to answer. Again, He patiently inquired, “Do you know what is the biggest idol in America?” Recovering from my surprise I responded, “No, Lord, what is the biggest idol in America?” His answer was simply one word — a word that sent shivers down my spine … “Freedom!”

The word seemed to explode within me. Paul McCartney had just concluded singing his song
“Freedom,” while hundreds of American flags waved in a strong display of patriotism. The words of that song seemed to echo in my mind: “we'll live for freedom … we'll fight for freedom … we'll die for freedom!”

More than anything else in America in our day, freedom is revered, honored, and, in all truth, worshiped. You can get away with speaking against God, success, or even money, but any declaration diminishing freedom or derogatory remark toward it is met with nearly universal condemnation. The enemy has taken liberty, the fruit of a truly godly society, and twisted it until it is not only the goal, but the thing most celebrated and glorified.

But the freedom America is so exalting is the not the freedom Jesus died to give believers. It is a worldly freedom; redefined and reinterpreted until its only resemblance is in word. It is selfish, not selfless, and if you listen carefully you will hear words like tolerance and diversity being inseparately woven together with this idol of freedom. Whenever the cry for freedom rings in America in our day there is an underlying humanistic tone that speaks harsh judgement upon the message of the gospel — that there is only one hope for mankind and one way to God, which is Jesus Christ. In the not so distant future, this “freedom” will be used to cause trials for those truly sharing the freedom of surrendering all to Jesus. They will be punished and persecuted in the very name of freedom.

If this idol were only being worshiped by the unredeemed in America it would be sad enough. But, unfortunately, it is much the same for many believers. They gladly shout out "freedom" as they worship the Lord, but it is often a false freedom they celebrate. Freedom, to them, means independence and doing whatever they want, justified by it being “the leading of the Lord.” They mistake liberty for license to do as they choose. The freedom they celebrate is not freedom to serve God, but freedom from all authority — including the godly authority He has designed to encourage, buildup, and protect them.

As we rejoice in the freedom Jesus died to give us, let us make certain it is His freedom we are truly celebrating. Though we have been set free in Christ, let us never forget that the word “bondslave” is found far more often in the New Testament than the word “freedom.” A bondslave is one who, like Jesus, sets aside his freedom because of the deep love he has for his master. May we be free from sin, and bondslaves for Christ.

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