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Nelson column – Freedom of expression

In the midst of the rigorous campaigning, the desires to win, and the difficulty of separating fact from fiction, it is obvious that we are in a presidential election year.
Perhaps we will all be relieved when the whole matter is resolved the first week in November. Then we can get our lives back to normal.
Some might claim that our election process has a lot to be desired. But the response has to be that it does ultimately work. It is the way we are able to express ourselves and allow our voices to be heard. We know it as a fundamental pillar in our free society. Many nations would welcome the opportunity to express themselves as we are able to do with impunity. What a blessing!
In the scriptures, St. Peter tells us that we are to “live as free men, yet without using our freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)
So often our world interprets freedom as simply the right to “do as we please.” And to a good extent, that is true. However, there is another side of this special gift.
True freedom’s other side says that we are free to “do as we ought.” In other words, we are called upon to accept our freedom, but also to act responsibly on it.
When we go to the polls to vote on election day, we are exercising our right in the context of responsibility. Not to vote or make a choice is to negate the precious gift that our freedom provides.
Our vigilance is to protect our freedom, but it is also to fulfill our responsibility.
We are encouraged to live as servants of God. A servant is one who places the needs and concerns of others alongside his own. That is not always easy to do. It requires acceptance of others and a motivation to love that can only come from a relationship with a loving and graceful God who has truly set us free.
Thank God we live in a land of freedom. But we also praise God by living as his grateful servants who see the need to accept the responsibilities of freedom as well as its rights. See you at the polls come Nov. 4.
Dr. David P. Nelson is interim pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.

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