Eugene Cho

freedom is [not] free

I have often heard and read the phrase:

“Freedom is not free.”

And while that may be true, it sums up for me one of the greatest examples of our human depravity.

Freedom.

Freedom is created by God.

Freedom is one of the greatest gifts God has given unto His creation.

But because of sin, rebellion, and human depravity –

is no longer free for all as God desired.

On this memorial day, I express my gratitude to the men and women – past and present – that have served in the military to protect and serve this country.  On this Memorial Day, I especially want to honor those who have died in service to this country.

On this day, I express my gratitude to others (even beyond the military) that has sought to use their lives, voices, and influence to advocate for the rights and freedoms for all of humanity.

But I also hope that while we share our appreciation of those that have served past and present, we would not forget that conflict and war in itself reflects the fallen and broken nature of humanity. While we acknowledge and appreciate, may we be that much more pursuant of the peace and shalom that God intended in the beginning and that God will consummate and restore on the Day.

May we always remember that we serve the Kingdom of God rather than the empire of nations.

We live in broken and fallen world but nevertheless, we believe in a God that created this world in beauty. Sin and rebellion enters into the human story but despite this sin, brokenness, and rebellion, we believe in a God that sent his son, Christ, to not only reconcile the world but to usher a Kingdom that will – one day – restore all things back unto Himself. God is on the move. God has a trajectory and this trajectory is to restore all things back unto Himself.

As we take time to honor those that have given their lives, may we never stop longing for peace.

I long for peace. I yearn for peace. I pray for peace. And I certainly await the day when God will restore all things.

But I don’t just want to wait, yearn, and pray for something, I want to participate – even in my small ways – in the trajectory of what I believe God has already put into motion. I want to call and invite others to live in the way of the peace: Blessed by the peacemakers.

Also, check this out: Flying a Fallen Soldier Home.

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10 Responses

  1. I hope people go out of their way to thank a military person when they come across one on the street (they kind of stick out.) I know I’m kind of shy about approaching strangers, but they are always gracious and thankful for a citizen recognizing what they are doing.

    • Patty Varnes says:

      I totally agree here, I to sometimes have a problem addressing total strangers but there is a familiar connection when I come across our military…..I feel like this if they are willing to lay it all on the line for me and my country and I am a stranger to them how much less harder should it be to extend my heart in gratitude to them when I see them in crossing?

  2. James says:

    “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” – James 3:17,18

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Jota Mossadihj, Jota Mossadihj, joshua a watson, joshua a watson and others. joshua a watson said: RT @eugenecho: “Freedom is not free” sums up one of the greatest examples of our human depravity – http://bit.ly/bjDCyJ […]

  4. […] freedom is [not] free « eugene cho says: Monday, May 31, 2010 at 2:02 am […]

  5. Brian Kiley says:

    Well said.

  6. Jaycee says:

    I enjoyed reading this. Thank you.

  7. Jon says:

    Well said. It important to keep that tension in view. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Mickey Gallagher says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that people who consider themselves Christians continue to find ways to justify killing in the name of a nation-state. There were many Iraqi and Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ who have been killed by U.S. bombs and warplanes, just as there have been many Iraqi, Afghani, and Palestinian Muslims who have died because of those same bombs. Are some deaths more important or tragic in the eyes of God? I don’t think Jesus is pleased with any reason for killing in war, whether it be for “freedom” or “democracy” or because it is believed to be “His will.” As long as Christians find ways to justify war and to celebrate those who perpetuate it, angels will continue to weep. For as the songwriter John Prine once wrote : “Your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore / We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war / And Jesus don’t like killin’ no matter what the reason for / And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore.”

  9. Al Engler says:

    War is indeed a terrible thing. I’ve seen it first hand. I also met the Lord and experienced the only true peace – peace with God through Jesus Christ during my military service. I then spent the next twenty years as a missionary to the U.S. Military. I still supervise people that serve in that capacity. As I said, war is a terrible thing, but consider this question. Do we want to leave war in the hands of the unredeemed? Or as long as wars exist, would it not be better to have people serving in our military who answer to Jesus?

    Jesus, during His life and ministry, had opportunities to declare the military profession “off-limits.” To the woman caught in adultery, He said, “Go and sin no more.” He could have given these same instructions to the Roman centurion in Matthew, chapter 8, but He didn’t. If Jesus wanted to condemn this man for serving the evil, Roman nation-state, this encounter provided an ideal opportunity. Instead, He commended the Roman soldier for his faith.

    The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8:5-10)

    John the Baptist also had direct communication with soldiers, who asked him how they should show works of righteousness in their lives. This is a vital passage of Scripture for people in the military.

    Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay” (Luke 3:2-3, 7-8, 14).

    This was an important question from the soldiers. What should soldiers do to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”? John could have said other things, including, “Get out of the military. It’s immoral, and you shouldn’t be involved!” But he didn’t. Speaking as a prophet, inspired by God, he told soldiers not to abuse their power and to lead honest, content lives. This is still true today. Both Jesus and John the Baptist could have condemned military service as an option for men and women of God. They did not.

    Now, I know that there will come a time when Jesus “will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken” (Zech. 9), and that causes me to appreciate believers today who are pacifist. They are probably a little ahead of me, because there will eventually be no soldiers needed in the Kingdom (or policemen or locksmiths or probably doctors). I also greatly appreciate those Christ followers who dive into the grey area of military service and lay their lives down for our nation and more importantly (in the case of believers) for the sake of the gospel.

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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