All around us we see evidence of people who live out the ideal of “I do what I want.” This is followed by the belief that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, it is all good. We continue our Jesus & The Secular series as Paul Kiss leans into Philippians 2:3-7. As we explore this passage we’ll discover that to follow Jesus is to surrender your life to His Rule; an other-centred way of living.
I can do what I want…
Speaker: Paul Kiss
Date: June 2, 2019
1. Individual Autonomy: Society’s Highest Ideal.
“I am free to do what I want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
2. An idealism we all embrace to some degree.
3. A Critique.
1. Are you truly free?
• There are no external forces influencing your daily decisions?
2. Who decides what is harmful or hurtful?
3. What do you do when people disagree on what is hurtful?
4. This statement claims to be an absolute value to which we must all ascribe. If each person gets to decide their morality, how can we make an absolute statement that there are no absolute values to which all people should ascribe? It’s self-defeating.
5. What about the negative corollary effects of one’s personal actions? I.e. Watching porn at home, but what about all the harmful aspects of the porn industry.
4. Jesus offers a radical alternative.
Philippians 2:3-7 – put others first
Matthew 20:26-28 – serve others rather than be served
1 Cor 6:19-20 – you are not your own, you were bought at a price
Rom 6:13-14 – give yourselves completely to God, for his glory
Gal 5:13 – use your freedom to serve one another
1 Pet 2:16-17 – don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
1. Where do you see evidence of people living out the idealism of “doing what I want?”
2. From your perspective, why do you think this ideal is so attractive to people?
3. Is this ideal always wrong to embrace? Can’t we think of ourselves first sometimes? What is an appropriate level of “doing what I want?”
4. Read the following quote and discuss your thoughts:
““Human rights’ are a fine thing, but how can we make ourselves sure that our rights do not expand at the expense of the rights of others. A society with unlimited rights is incapable of standing to adversity. If we do not wish to be ruled by a coercive authority, then each of us must rein himself in…A stable society is achieved not by balancing opposing forces but by conscious self-limitation: by the principle that we are always duty-bound to defer to the sense of moral justice.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Rebuilding Russia: Reflections & Tentative Proposals
5. Read Romans 12:1-5. How does this passage speak into the conversation about personal autonomy for Christians? If we lived out these words, what would it look like?
6. The Apostle Paul writes, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20. What do you think this means for Christians? How can we grow in learning how to live out this principle?
1. Get together with some friends, over a meal, and discuss this topic. Ask people what they think about this idea of doing what we want if we don’t hurt anyone. Ask the questions in Paul’s critique to see how people respond.
2. Listen to this talk by David Bentley Hart on “Nihilism and Freedom: Is there a difference?” How do you respond to it? Listen here.