Last Thursday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, a day to celebrate our freedoms. Specifically, the freedom from tyranny, the imposition of government mandates without the input from the governed. The failure to recognize one’s God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Somewhere along the way the true meaning of freedom has become watered down and has come to mean the freedom to do whatever, whenever, and wherever I chose to do what I do. Our present-day culture is awash with the proclaiming of rights and liberties and freedoms, and most so very far removed from what our Founding Fathers had envisioned that I am afraid that they would not recognize the landscape before us as the one for which the sacrificed so much to give us.
My friends, there is freedom and then there is freedom. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to set the captive free, to free individuals from the bondage and the penalty of sin. When such freedom is discovered and then embraced, what is the outcome. The answer may surprise you.
In Galatians 5:13, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For you were called to freedom brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Eugene Peterson in his contemporary New Testament titled The Message, puts it this way, “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.”
I know that these words cut across the grain of our usual understanding of freedom. Here we are reminded that freedom in Christ sets us free from the tyranny of serving our selves or looking out for ole number one. This is the freedom that Christ Himself displayed when He denied Himself on our behalf. That self-denial became the source of our true freedom. And now, as we have been set free to serve one another, we have been set free to discover what freedom truly is.
Christian freedom is not rooted in what I am now free to do for myself, it is rooted in being set free from self and liberated to serve others for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.
I understand that this form of thinking will take some getting used to, even among those of us who call ourselves Christians. It’s another one of those places that we must battle back against the cultural norms. But it will posture us to discover the true freedom for which Christ has set us free.