While the celebrations will be a bit different this year, many of us will spend time this weekend celebrating with friends and family the independence of our country. We will spend time thanking God for the freedoms that we enjoy, especially the opportunity to worship our Creator without fear of persecution. It is a wonderful thing to live in a country that supports such freedoms, especially as we see so many other places in the world where the picture is much different. Thank You Lord for our Freedoms.
But with these freedoms comes great responsibility. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Galatians, “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. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14). Here the Lord, through Paul, rightly reminds us that freedom is not the absence of constraint whereby we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. But rather freedom is the opportunity to be the people that God has created us to be, and called us to be in Christ, operating within the parameters that He has laid within us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it like this:
In the language of the Bible, freedom is not something man has for himself, but something he has for others… it is not a possession, a presence, an object… but a relationship and nothing else. In truth, freedom is a relationship between two persons. Being free means “ being free for the other,” because the other has bound me to him. Only in relationship with the other am I free. (Creation and Fall, Temptation p.37)
I am sure that you see how this Biblical notion of freedom challenges both the right (free to acquire all the wealth I can) and the left (free to use my body any way I want) of our present cultural moment. Rather than a freedom from restraints, our freedom has bound us to Christ (Romans 6:18). It is in following His path that brings life, peace and a heart free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-6). As we lean into this truth, every day becomes Independence Day!
I look forward to seeing many of you Sunday or to being seen by you through video. We will be looking at a relatively little known passage in 2 Kings 3 in which Israel’s kings go to war against Moab. And while we see the mixed hearts of the human actors in the story, God once again shows up to remind us that only as we seek Him will we experience true blessing!