Some Christians will struggle with the idea of making policies in the Church. One of the reasons for such an aversion to policy making is that we are free in Christ. And, I would have to agree that there is a problem with policy making if the policies lead to legalism.
If church leaders are using policies to dictate “righteous” living, they are using policies more to control than to protect and guide. Though outward conformity might be gained through such policy making and enforcement, the heart very well might be left unchanged. But, God is most concerned with the heart.
Church policies that are developed and used to protect and guide with biblical objectives leading to the right kind of parameters, always with the big picture in mind, can be quite healthy for the church. Policies of this nature do align with the kind of freedom we have in Christ.
We Have Freedom in Christ
God’s heart for the Church certainly is that we live in freedom. Jesus came that we might be set free (Gal. 5:1) and that we might have life and have it more abundantly … to the full (Jn. 10:10).
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5:1)
Before concluding such freedom should exempt the church from making policies, consider what freedom in Christ means.
What We Have Been Set Free From
Scripture often speaks about freedom in conjunction with sin, death, and bondage. In Christ Jesus we have been set free from the penalty of sin as well as its power over us (Rom. 6:18, 22; 8:2). Galatians 5 speaks of the freedom we have in Christ. In that context, we are reminded that we have been given the Holy Spirit to make living out that freedom a reality. — “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16)
How that Freedom is to be Used
Freedom in Christ therefore has to be more than a license for Christians to do as they please. If we look at verses related to our freedom in Christ, we will discover how it is to be used.
- Freedom in Christ is based on or rooted in truth so it must align with the whole of Scripture.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (Jn. 8:32)
- We are freed from something and to Someone so our freedom switches our allegiance from living for self to the Lord who is holy and will make us holy.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Rom. 6:22)
- Freedom in Christ must be governed by love for others, not self-indulgence.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:13-14)
- Freedom in Christ does not excuse us to make bad choices knowing our gracious God will forgive us.
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. (1 Pet. 2:16)
How Freedom in Christ Affects Policy Making
Church policies should follow the above guidelines for the use of our freedom in Christ. They should protect us from ourselves and others who would seek to take that freedom away from us or misrepresent that freedom. They should guide us in the way of love. These kinds of policies do not hinder us from living in freedom. Rather, our own sinful human nature does that.
Policies should never be developed to enslave and box us in but rather to help us reach the potential of living a life of love (Matt. 22:37-40; Eph. 5:2) and holiness (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:15-16) that will find ourselves thinking more about the interests of others (Phil. 2:1-7) and humbly serving them rather than living for self (Gal. 5:13-14). That is true freedom!
Policies must be about helping people express their freedom in Christ in ways that are for the good of all … to build up. That is true freedom in Christ!