Folks everywhere are celebrating the Fourth of July this weekend.
Independence Day is worth celebrating. Freedom is worth celebrating.
There’s lots of talking and blogging and fussing about freedom to live our lives as we choose going on these past weeks. Here are a couple of things to consider that may give you a few new thoughts to think.
As an American my freedom has its limits. Sound a bit contradictory? A bit of an oxymoron? Perhaps so, but, let’s ponder this a bit, shall we? We are free to own property for instance, but, we are not free to take another person’s property and they are not free to take ours. That is called theft, burglary, robbery and it is against the law. Our freedoms as an American are indeed limited to the boundaries of the law. I am free to own a vehicle, licensed to drive that vehicle and permitted to use the road ways. I am not free to drive at any speed I choose, text while I drive or drive without a seatbelt. Our freedom is limited by the law. I am free to have children, a spouse and even a pet. I am not free to mistreat or abuse them however because of laws that protect them. I am free to attend a church of my choice, open a business, speak my mind, and have lots of opinions. I am not free to threaten others or prevent them from these same freedoms. My freedom does not permit me to harm another person. In other words, my freedom ends when it violates the freedom of another person’s freedom.
Now, as a Christian I am free indeed. I’m given freedoms beyond the laws of the land. What I mean by that is, my faith frees me in ways that a government could never do. I am free from the penalty of my sins. I am forgiven. I am freed from the weight of my heaviest burdens. I am free to experience joy in the midst of terrible circumstances. I am free to approach the throne of Grace and make my petitions known. I am free to live my life in a way that pleases and brings glory to my Jesus. I am free to share my faith, blog my scripture studies and pray the blessing over our food right in a public place. I am free. But, guess what?
Our spiritual freedoms have limits too. Before you panic and rebuke me, hear me out. When we choose to forfeit our freedoms by doing things our own way, that’s one limit. God’s Word is our authoritative guide for how to walk in and enjoy our spiritual freedom. That simply means, the Bible has the right to tell us how to live our lives if we are Christians. It has a lot to say about it. A lot. Just as there are consequences for breaking the law of the land, there are consequences for breaking God’s law. Freedom has its limits.
I can almost hear you asking, “What if the two contradict? What then?” I heard a favorite preacher speak concerning this earlier this week, T.D. jakes said that we better not be forgetting that we, as Christians, will be held to the higher standard of the God’s law. I agree. I agree whole-heatedly, I agree without compromise. If you are a believer, a disciple of Christ, then we can never use our freedom as a cover-up for evil.
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1Peter 2:16
I watched a video this week of a young lady breaking the law to follow her convictions. I was moved to tears as I heard her say she was prepared to be arrested and then she began to quote scriptures. “Of whom shall I be afraid?” rang in my ears. I wonder, if the day will come when we too must stand up for our convictions and be prepared to face the consequences? If I ever do, I pray that I will do so with the grace and dignity at she exhibited.
I remember this old song I used to sing as a girl.
Lock me up in a prison
And throw away the keys
Take away the vision
From these eyes that now, now can see
Deprive me of the food I eat
And even bind my hands and my feet
But just just as long as I have Jesus
Then, I shall still go free
On one of my first times to visit our state prison for women with a ministry group, they gave each of the volunteers a few moments to say hello. I was without words of my own, a rare moment indeed. I was so overcome with emotion as I looked into the faces of women who had been stripped of their freedom and sat before me waiting to hear a word of encouragement. I opened my mouth and out came the words to that old song. I belted it out with all the gusto I could manage and they stood and applauded with tears streaming down their cheeks. That applause was not for my impromptu singing but for the the truth of the words in that old gospel song. Even in their present situation of despair and incarceration, they could still be free.
Today, so can you. No matter your personal state or the state of the union, no matter the mistakes of your past, no matter the mistakes of others, you can be free, free indeed because of Jesus. As we celebrate freedom this weekend, why not let it be the celebration of a new found freedom in Christ? I can not begin to explain the joy that is available to you by doing so. Even as I type these words I am flooded with joy at the very thought. May God Bless You and may God Bless the USA!