Fourth of July, Independence Day; the day when Americans celebrate the very heart of our national identity—our freedom. While we celebrate that freedom with hot dogs and fireworks, and acknowledge the great sacrifices individual citizens have made to secure it, we also need to remember that our national liberty is ultimately of this world.
The only true freedom is found in Jesus Christ. Part of his mission was to “proclaim freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1). When we give Christ control and make Him Lord in our lives, we are granted an eternal freedom that can never be taken away from us. Each time we lean towards the world and away from God, we waste the freedom for which Christ died. Our pride and stubbornness can lead us to think we have the “right” to do as we please (1 Corinthians 10:23). But Paul warned against such behaviors. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13)..
For more than two centuries, American soldiers have fought and sacrificed for our freedom. They have striven to ensure our “unalienable rights [of] life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—our very freedom. Not just to dream of what we want in life, but to chase those dreams. What a waste, therefore, to sit by idly, letting our days go by without pursuing our happiness.
Likewise, and much more importantly, Christ died that we might have abundant life (John 10:10), or as The Message puts it: “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” Jesus came to release us from the slavery of sin.There are some sins in my life that I seem to repeat over and over. I get tired of fighting my sin. I find myself praying that God would not get tired of me asking forgiveness for the same sin I needed forgiveness for yesterday. Many of us struggle in this way, but if I give up struggling, if i give up the pursuit, I am squandering my freedom.
I would not want to explain to a soldier, someone who sacrificed for my freedom, that I treated that sacrifice as anything less than a precious gift—that I did not pursue my happiness with everything I had. In the same way, I have no desire to explain to Jesus that I gave into my flesh and abused the freedom He gave me—that I chose not to pursue the abundant life he has for me.
This Fourth of July I pray that I will serve others “humbly in love,” pursue the dreams God has given me and thereby honor the One who made me truly free indeed.