America was founded on a desire for freedom. Our national holiday to commemorate this event is called Independence Day.
This particular Fourth of July feels very different. Most places will not celebrate with fireworks and the United States of America may be as divided as ever.
As many of us think of freedom and independence over this holiday, I’d like to remind us of the truest form of freedom.
It is very popular to express our freedoms and our rights. The right to free speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to vote.
Combine these Constitutional rights with our human propensity to be self centered and think of ourselves first. Very quickly, something as beautiful as freedom can show its dark side.
A quick glance at the headlines reveals of the fruits which stem from an over emphasis on freedom and independence.
The Bible does speak of freedom.
“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.”Galatians 5:1
Part of the beauty of grace is the freedom it brings.
- Freedom from self effort and religious works.
- Freedom from having to reach a certain standard in order to be accepted by God.
- Freedom from a list of rules and an invitation into the communion that God desires between Himself and those created in His Image.
But the freedom that grace brings was not purchased through a self centered clinging to personal rights act.
Jesus gave up his freedom for the benefit of others.
True Biblical freedom is not one of self preservation or of choosing our own wants and desires.
True freedom is given up for the sake of another.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Galatians 5:13-14
Freedom does not give us the ability to do whatever we want, rather we are set free to fully focus on serving others.
Our standing with God is secure. We don’t have to strive and work to maintain that position in a self serving manner.
True freedom allows us to be outward focused.
As our country celebrates Independence Day, let us remember that our Christian application of this is not to become islands unto ourselves; focused first and foremost on our own desires.
Biblical freedom creates interdependence.
As we focus on others, we are reminded that we need each other.
Jesus did not hold on to his freedom or cling to his rights, he willingly gave them up for the sake others.
Aren’t you glad you are included in the others?
Is it possible we can cling so tightly to our freedoms or our rights, that rather than setting us free, they actually keep us in slavery?
True freedom is being willing to give it up for the sake of someone else.
As we celebrate freedom and independence, let’s do so with an outward focus.
Rather than clinging tightly to our own personal rights, let’s relinquish them as Jesus did.
Let’s focus on advocating for the rights of other more so than our own.