Happy Dependence Day!
Written by Fred Schlichter   

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Statue of Liberty
As the upcoming July 4th holiday once again approaches,  American patriotism comes to its annual high, with shouts of “Freedom!” resounding throughout the country, people proudly wielding and waving Old Glory, and celebrating that which was established so long ago: Independence … Freedom!

 


dr_mlking
The phrase “Let Freedom Ring”, emphasized by Martin Luther King Jr. in his rousing “I Have a Dream” speech, has become a battle-cry of idealism, exceeding its original intended use regarding racial inequality: freedom from oppression, freedom to live, to speak, to practice as one chooses, uninhibited by any outside control or influence. This idea of course resonated from America’s foundation, embodied in that now-famous document which so eloquently exclaims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 


We Americans most certainly enjoy our share of great liberties. And while this may be an ideal here, we sometimes forget or fail to see that there is an even greater freedom beyond what this country can offer us.  This is a freedom established from the foundation of the world through God’s great plan of salvation.


soldier_gravesBut as freedoms go, they do not come about without a price.  There has been many a sacrifice made so that the rest of us could enjoy such unalienable rights. 


As Christians, we know a great sacrifice has been made on our behalf by the Son of God Himself, not for the freedom from an oppressive, over-taxing system of a domineering government, but freedom from the very clutches of slavery and bondage itself.  Jesus says in John 8:34, “ … everyone who practices sin is a slave (bondservant) to sin.”  But having been redeemed by our Savior, Paul states, “We know that our old self was crucified with Him …. so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Romans 6:6.


Just as God delivered the children of Israel from a life of servitude and captivity in Egypt through the hand of Moses, with infinite grace and tender mercy He gave his one and only Son -  the greatest sacrifice. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.  This is indeed the ultimate freedom - but at what a price!jesus_oncross


While we often have a habit of using the words "freedom" and "independence" interchangeably, freedom through Christ does not translate into independence.  The word independence implies that there had been a former dependence on something else, and the reality of it is that one simply moves from one dependency to another.  Think of Revolutionary America, proclaiming independence from a British system of government - only to rely upon their newly-formed idealistic system.  Spiritually, this is no different.  Freedom from sin lies in a complete dependency on God and submission to Him.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” - James 4:7.  Jesus Himself depended upon His daily communion with His Father in heaven, seeking Divine strength and guidance.  He says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”


Unlike in the book of Judges, when “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes”, we are not to do whatever we want, taking freedom for granted, or to use it for our own gainful, greedy, worldly purposes.  But having been granted such an incredible gift, we have a duty to use it responsibly in the service of others.  Paul writes in Galatians 5:13, “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.”   Furthermore, we are admonished to honor the Giver as well as the gift.  “Live as a people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16.


cross_forgivenFreedom in Christ involves so much more: it brings about happiness, invokes joy, instills peace, and renders a humble and thankful heart.  As we observe the upcoming Independence Day, remember how God has broken the chains of sin and brought about true liberty to you through his Son Jesus.


“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36

 

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