John 8:34-36 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
On a rainy morning around 5:30 a.m. surrounded by a rowdy group of young people ready to head out on the journey of the life, I watched our son just 18-years-old hop joyfully and purposely on a bus to head out. The bus resembled the same ones that carried him off to camp and church trips for years, but this time it was different. He wasn’t going for a week of teaching wrapped in entertainment and fun. He was headed to a military base to prepare for deployment. He would leave his temporary home there to spend almost a year in the Middle East defending our freedom. I had done really well up to that moment. Smiling and laughing with our son and his friends. This was no joke. Not only the oldest and our first high school graduate, but now the first to leave the nest. Just how far he would fly. I could not reach out and touch him. I could not call him on the phone. My heartstrings would have to reach farther than they ever had before. When the doors of the bus finally closed and their journey began I could not stop the tears from falling. He was answering his call. He was fulfilling his purpose. It was hard. It hurt. At that moment, I finally had a taste of the price of this thing called freedom. It finally hit home.
On the fourth of July, our country celebrates independence. A free country with certain rights that unquestionably are becoming increasingly compromised. I will not pull out the soapbox or begin a debate just simply say that our country and all nations need Jesus Christ. We need freedom more than ever before. The price has been paid, but are we willing to walk in it. July Fourth is Independence Day that day that we come together to barbeque and head to the beach. It is a celebration of the birth of the United States and the Declaration of Independence.
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Excerpt from Preamble of Declaration of Independence.
I believe that the heart of this nation was firmly impressed by the Hand of God on the hearts of the men who wrote this powerful statement to the world. In the course of human events, we do find times that we dissolve political bonds and worldly agendas. Jesus Christ died to set us free. The freedom to remain free from bondage is included yet the hardest to comprehend. We hold these truths self-evident that all men are created equal. We have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Not every does… and that is our right.
Galatians 5:1 (NIV) 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.
What is freedom? Freedom is the power to determine action without restraint. To be free is to enjoy personal rights and liberties as one who is not in slavery. Okay, what is slavery? Bondage or involuntary servitude. What is a slave? A person who is property of and wholly subject to another or someone who is entirely under the domination of some influence or person. It is important to know what freedom is and how Christ administers it to us. Sin put a price on our life. We became bound to sin because humanity could not pay the amount owed to reclaim their freedom. Jesus paid that price which immediately made us His Slaves. However, God and His Son had bigger plans and gave us the Holy Spirit who identifies us as God’s Children. Like the prodigal son who thought as he ventured on his way that he was living in freedom would soon find out, freedom has a price. When he returned home with the intention of becoming a servant in his father’s house, he found that he was still a son.
We are free to be the sons and daughters of the Living God. To live according to His Kingdom, His Will and His Power, but do we use our freedom in such a way to ascertain it. Freedom is a choice. Each day as I go about my business, I decide if I will remain free. If I choose to obey the law, I am free from imprisonment. If I choose to live within my means, I am free from debt. If I decide to stay in God’s Word and feed my Spirit, I will walk in freedom that grace has given me. I will serve a master. I have to. My sin held me captive. But now I am captivated by His Love. I want to be a Child of God. I do not want to be a slave to sin.
James 1:23-25 (NIV) Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
“Freedom consist not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” Pope John Paul II. Jesus Christ has given us the opportunity to raise our standard of living not in observing the law but living out the Love of God in our human life every single day. God gave us His Word not to hold us back but to prosper our life. Sin stole the blessing of obedience from us because our debt swallowed it whole. When Christ died on the Cross and gave us grace, we now have the opportunity to remain in right standing with God which frees us to live according to His Word and now receive the benefits associated with it. In no way shape or form will the Lord ever force us to be blessed but allows us to make a productive choice through restoration of righteousness.
Now what? By choosing to obey God’s Word, we can have everything that He promised those who do. It is not something we earn. It is facilitated by grace. Just like my children enjoy the benefits of the price that we pay for their home, care, convenience and comfort including mortgage, utilities, internet, cellphones, clothing, and entertainment so it is with God to His Children. We now have a Provider, Healer, Deliverer, Prosperer, and more. We are now free to enjoy the Kingdom as first intended by the Grace of God given through Jesus Christ. Religion is restrictive focusing on the do’s and don’ts of the Law so do not be deceived. A relationship with Jesus Christ consumed by love will never make us do anything we do not want to do but as our bond grows stronger we will want to be closer than ever before. Freedom makes it so.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV) But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. Do you ever have the thought that there must be more to life than this? I do. In fact, after being a believer for over a decade, I now know that there is. However, there are still days I struggle to maintain my freedom in Christ. This freedom that I have been given is not dictated by my circumstances or the current condition of my life but is according to the Word of God and His Spirit inside of me. Without an inward change there will be no outward conversion. We cannot continue to live according to the world and expect Kingdom reward. Maybe I should go one step further and say that we should stop looking for earthly reward for Kingdom Business as well. Church is not for profit. Or is it? Our relationship with Jesus is not a business partnership by a loving relationship. If only we could set our heart and mind on heaven first before we start each day, pursuit or journey. To have one sole purpose to live in the freedom of His Love and do His Will faithfully. What would happen? We would be free. Free from doubt, fear, worry, stress, slavery and every other harmful thing binding us from living the prosperous life that God planned and Jesus died for.
Today as we celebrate freedom, men and women all around us are watching who whether you know it or not gave a portion of their life to maintain it. Some will be the family members of those who loved ones are away or never coming home. They understand the price of freedom because they paid it. We honor them when we live in freedom including the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Jesus gave His Life so that we could live in absolute freedom and prosper in those three areas as well. He gave us freedom wrapped in the gift called grace. What are you doing to maintain your freedom? What are you doing to discover its parameters? To live in bondage to sin after knowing Christ is to dishonor His Love and refuse the Gift set before us. He died nevertheless to pay our debt to sin. Every day that we choose to live freely according to His Word and by His Spirit as God’s sons and daughters is to celebrate our Independence Day in Christ. Thank you Jesus for the Price you paid to set me free. Lord, let me never take such a precious gift for granted. Help me to be free!
Psalm 119:41-15 (NIV) May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise; then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.