“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… You, my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:1, 13
On Independence Day, we celebrate our many freedoms. Among others, we celebrate the freedom of religion, speech, the press, bear arms, peaceably assemble, vote, and elect our leaders. And as we celebrate, we should thank God that we live in a land dedicated to “liberty and justice for all.”
Adam and Eve thought that they knew how to exercise their God-given freedom in the Garden of Eden, but they were terribly wrong. In choosing to disobey God, they became enslaved to sin, shame, guilt, and death. Their wonderful relationships with God and one another were broken. They passed on the terrible burden of Original Sin to all future generations.
There is a great difference between “freedom” and “license.” License is doing as one pleases, wherever and whenever one pleases, regardless of the consequences to others. It is toxic and an invitation to destruction and death.
The parable of The Prodigal Son provides a good example of the terrible results of license. The younger son wanted to be wealthy and free from his father’s authority.
But this younger son soon discovered that he was not free at all. He was destitute and imprisoned by his own foolishness and wickedness. It was not until he repented and humbled himself to serve in his father’s household that he discovered his father’s forgiveness and real freedom.
Because of Adam and Eve, humankind is enslaved by sin, death, and bound to the devil. Yet many people do not understand that. They are like slaves who think that they are free. But thinking that one is free certainly does not make one free.
True freedom only comes through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It comes by grace (God’s gift of unmerited favor) through faith (God’s gift that allows one to believe and follow Jesus Christ).
In his treatise, “On the Freedom of a Christian,” Martin Luther writes,
“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
But how can one be lord of all AND servant of all?
Martin Luther states that through Jesus Christ, believers are no longer compelled to keep God’s law in order to be justified (that is, considered by God to be righteous). Rather, through Jesus Christ, they are justified and can now strive to love God and serve their neighbors as faith-filled believers.
As we give thanks to God for our freedoms and for all of God’s blessings on the 4th of July, let us also give thanks for God’s love revealed to the whole world in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
In Christ, we are joyously bound to God and one another in unconditional love. In Christ, we free to live abundantly now and eternally together — one day!
All our thanks be to God!