Freedom is a notion that runs deep in the heart of every American. It is as much a part of our cultural DNA as apple pie and ice cream, and rightfully so. Our forebearers fought hard for us to be able to have choices that people in other places only dream about. In America, we can pretty much do what we want, when we want to do it, and wherever we want to do it. The only encumbrances to our freedom are the laws by which we’re bound, laws that ensure our freedom doesn’t infringe upon anyone else’s.
But freedom is not just something guaranteed to every citizen of this great country; it’s also a part of what we enjoy as followers of Jesus Christ. Indeed, one could argue that the freedom we know as Christians is even superior to the civil liberties the U.S. Constitution guarantees. That’s because Christian freedom frees us “from” the burden of our sin, and, more importantly, frees us “to” give of ourselves in ways that make life better for others. Christian freedom, therefore, is not a selfish blessing. It is not a wellspring of favor to be hoarded. It is a gift to be shared. It is a virtue to be expressed. And what results when we do so is an even greater liberty as we are lifted beyond ourselves to a place of contentment that only those who are free in Christ can ever know.
So, as we prepare this weekend to celebrate our civic freedoms, which of course includes our First Amendment right to worship as we please, we would do well to contemplate the religious liberties we enjoy – liberties that move us to serve others. Our nation’s birthday should be a time when we are moved to consider our spiritual rebirth and the new life it brings about as we experience the full measure of what Jesus himself promised – that “when the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8 :36).
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).