As an American citizen the word freedom has to be at the top of our favorite words. As the 4th of July rolls around the ideas of freedom ring louder and louder. We see signs all over town of ďLet Freedom Ring.Ē We talk gallantly about those that fought for our freedoms. We are currently even fighting so that other people can share in the freedom we have here in this country. Movies that promote the concept of freedom quickly become favorites. To this day the movie Braveheart is something I love watching this time of the year. I love seeing William Wallaceís last words being ďFreedom.Ē I love how despite the oppression of the English king he was unyielding. He would not die as a slave of an oppressive king. He wanted, longed for and ultimately died for the concept of freedom. Even thinking about that scene I get goose bumps. It is powerful and even though it was not about Americans, we can easily identify with the message. We all know someone who has put their life on the line for that battle cry of freedom.
But, what many of our fellow countrymen donít understand is why our founding fathers latched onto this idea of freedom. They did not want freedom because they didnít like being taxed. They didnít want freedom because they grew tired of someone telling them what to do. They didnít want freedom because their core values were simply different than that of England. They wanted freedom because they believed that freedom was something that our Creator endowed upon us. Freedom exists because God exists. If we take God out of our lives we have no basis for the very freedom we long for.
The concept of freedom is found throughout the New Testament. Christ himself stated that the truth has the power to free us (John 8:32). We are all enslaved. Some people were enslaved by oppressing nations. Some people were enslaved by an actual master. Some people are enslaved by their fears. Others are enslaved by their sin. But, we all are enslaved by death. Not a single one of us has the power to free ourselves from its grasp. Nations can cast off others nations, like we did from England. People can be freed from their masters, like our nation did during the Civil War. People can overcome fears. But death, despite all of manís attempts to prolong it comes to us all. We canít defeat it. We canít bargain with it. But the truth, which is Godís word, has the power to set us free from all of it. No, this does not mean that if we trust in Godís words no nation can conquer us. It doesnít mean that slaves would be set free. It doesnít mean what causes you to fear will no cease to exist. What it means is that the metaphorical shackles that come with those things disappear. We no longer are concerned with who is king over nation A or nation B because we are citizens of a better kingdom. We no longer are concerned with whether or not we have a master or not, because we come to the realization that we all serve the same master in heaven. We no longer let fear master us because perfect love casts out fear. And death; it really is defeated. Godís word has the power to overcome death in a very literal way. Even though Jesus died, his tomb is empty, even until this day. He arose, never to die again. And we can trust that one day we too will gain the victory (freedom) over our great ďmasterĒ death (I Cor. 15).
Something else that is missed by most Americans is what our freedoms mean. Just because we are free, it doesnít mean that we are free to do as we will. We arenít free to commit murder. We arenít free to go on a crime spree. We arenít even free to drive how fast we want whenever we want. Or at least we know that while we could do those things, we will be punished for doing so. Freedom has its limitation and if we abuse them, our freedoms are removed from us. Such is true with the freedoms God has given us. In I Cor. 6:12, Paul wrote, ďAll things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.Ē Just because you might be free to do something doesnít mean it is okay to be mastered by something or that it even is edifying for you or for someone else. In other words, God did not free you so that you can tear down others with your attitude. God did not free you so that you can tear yourself down with new vices and new sins. He freed you so that you would walk worthy of your calling (Eph. 4:1).
And finally, we as Americans often forget freedom is not free. William Wallaceís freedom cost him his life. Our nations freedom cost us many lives. The freedom of the slaves in this country cost us even more lives. And our freedom from sin and death cost God his only Son. It wasnít free. Not in the least. So, when Friday rolls around and you start thinking about your freedoms donít forget what it cost this nation, and our God to give you those freedoms.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 5 Issue 29