Real Freedom -- Dr. Robert Richardson
On next Wednesday, July 4th, we will celebrate the 236th birthday of American independence from England. This national holiday will be remembered with parades, picnics, patriotic ceremonies galore, and rounds of evening fireworks to commemorate the establishment of freedom in America.
Many of the celebrations will focus on the freedoms earned though the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution. All of these actions have provided the basic political and security structure in which we enjoy the multiple freedoms of our day.
On Independence Day, the primary focus is usually on the freedom from the external occupation, influence and/control of other nations.
While protecting our nation is extraordinarily important, it is interesting to note that the Scripture tends to focus primarily on freedom from internal and personal slavery.
In John 8:32, Jesus said, “and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This is to suggest that ignoring the truth leads to a type of slavery that cannot be resolved by political maneuvering or military might. One is set free from this particular type of slavery only by knowledge of the truth.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but by me.” This basic personal freedom is the result of a commitment to follow the truth as revealed in Christ.
The Gospel of John affirms this principle: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) The apostle Paul confirms this truth in the Gospels as he writes in his letter to the Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Perhaps we need to remember that the life lived most freely, that of Jesus Christ, was not lived in a country like ours, rather under a very harsh dictatorship – that of the Roman government. Perhaps this also serves as a reminder that one can live in the free country like ours and still be enslaved by personal maladies like fear, guilt, greed, hate, arrogance, and pride.
Chaplain Peter Marshall offered this prayer before the U.S. Senate:
“Lord Jesus, thou who art the way, the truth, and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please do what is right.”
May you be really free on this special day of liberty.