Happy Independence Day!
In terms of the history of the world, America is a still a young experiment in democracy and true personal freedom. Having travelled and lived in other countries and systems, I’ll tell you that what we have is very unique and special. There are very few places in the world where freedom is cherished, protected and actually experienced like it is in America.
No, we are not perfect. In humble honesty, we must acknowledge that there is so much in our country that is still wrong and needs to be fixed. And, we are free to even disagree on what needs to be fixed and how we do that. We will have imperfect freedoms as long as humans are a part of the system!
And while our legal freedoms are still not equally distributed, underneath the parts that are broken and even unjust, there is an amazing value and provision of personal freedom. The Bill of Rights is still an amazing protection of personal freedoms. I love our country and the freedom and opportunities it offers.
There is even a greater freedom offered to every human, despite the system they live in. Paul says is so well in Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. The context is regarding the religious slavery of having to follow certain rules to be accepted into the community of faith. Paul boldly announces that we are free of religion. We can’t gain or earn God’s love by trying to be good and by following certain rules. We don’t have to jump through a bunch of religious hoops to be forgiven. In Jesus, there is no condemnation. God loves us… period. We get to become a free child of God as we trust Jesus and engage in an authentic relationship with him – no matter who you are or what your past looks like. And when we invite Jesus to have primary influence in us, that’s called faith, then Jesus will transform us in ways rules and religion could never change us.
Later in verse 6 Paul says – The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. That’s profound. That’s a clear statement about what really matters. That is the result of the freedom we have in Christ. We are free from the boundaries of religion to let Jesus’ love flow through us. Freedom, in terms of personal rights or spiritual experience, was never meant to just be for our own benefit alone, but to allow us to be free to love and serve others.
I sort of wish the official name of the holiday on July 4th was Freedom Day. No, there’s no campaign forming here. But that’s the heart of what this day is about. Freedom! Priceless in value. But it always costs. Our freedoms cost our early founders dearly. Our spiritual freedom cost God his one and only Son. I’m grateful for freedom and those who sacrificed to make it available. Yet, on this holiday, I’m also reminded of how very few people get to experience both personal and spiritual freedoms.