This weekend we get to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s a day on which we celebrate our independence, our freedom. And man, do we ever value freedom. It’s something we see in ourselves early on while we are still children. It’s not just developed, it’s in us.
I remember one fateful dinner in my house. My mom cooked something I didn’t like. She had infringed on my freedom, on what I believed with my whole heart was my inalienable right, to eat what I wanted. I was ready to fight for my freedom and fight I did. At first, I tried to talk and reason, “Mom, I don’t like this. You know I don’t like this. I told you last time I don’t like this. Why did you make it? I want something else” My smooth talking got me nowhere. So, I figured like all kids that if I spoke louder my parents could better understand. That incited quite a reaction, but still got me nowhere. I was stuck in bondage with that yucky food. From that point, there was a standoff and a blockade. Threats were made. I was put in confinement and that was that. So much for freedom.
When we are young, we think freedom is about getting to do what we want. We think freedom is being in control. Every kid wants to be the boss or the king/queen. But, as we learned in the garden of Eden, there is bondage in that kind of power (Genesis 3). Shortly after Adam and Eve start making their own decisions instead of following God, all of humanity rapidly devolves. It’s only one generation later that we see the world’s first murder (Genesis 4:1-16).
We teach kids that sin is choosing to do what you want instead of what God wants. Jesus says in John 8:34, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” Sin is the illusion of freedom. So, freedom isn’t really about being able to do whatever we want. It’s about being able to do what we should. Freedom is having the ability to do what is right.
True freedom is only found in Christ. Through Jesus’ death on the cross he has broken our bondage to sin and given us his Holy Spirit. He is transforming us into a new creation, a truly free people, adopted into his family. We are his kids. John 8:36 reminds us, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
The beauty of this freedom is that it comes with so much. Not only are we free to do what is right and best through Jesus, but this true freedom meets all our deepest needs. It shows us who we are, what we are supposed to be doing, and who we are becoming.
For many of us, in our mid to late teen years we have a huge decision to make. What am I going to do for work? There is a line drawn in the sand and we have to pick what we are going to do for the rest of our life. That kind of freedom didn’t feel free to me. I was overwhelmed with making the right choice. I would have given anything to have someone who knew me; my deepest desires, my giftings, my shortcomings, my personality, and my temperament, to come along side me. Someone who knew who I was supposed to become, to just tell me what to do, what was right. As free as I may have been to choose my destiny, I was in bondage to the fear of messing it all up, I was powerless to guarantee the best path.
We often find ourselves in this very spot in life, wishing we knew the way forward. Then Jesus picks us up. Jesus takes this burden from us.
He tells us who we are,
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!
1 John 3:1a
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
He shows us what to do,
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.
And he shows us what we are becoming,
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:18b
As you celebrate the freedom we have in our country this weekend, take time to celebrate the true freedom we have in Jesus.
God thank you so much for freeing me from sin. Thank you for sending Jesus and bringing me back to you. Thank you for giving me purpose and direction. Thank you for the confidence I have in you. Sometimes I take my eyes off of you and get back to forging my own path. Thank you for always being there with open arms when I look back to you. Draw me ever deeper into your freedom and give me opportunity to share that freedom with my household, my city, and the world. I want to become ever more like you. Amen.