“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love serve one another.”
I spent a number of Independence Days out of the United States when my family lived overseas. This July 4th will be yet another. I will be at Cambridge University in the middle of doctorate classes with colleagues from around the world, so there will be no fireworks, no parades, no barbecues. Those of us from the U.S.A. will miss the patriotic songs and celebrations, but you can count on me wearing my red, white and blue! I am thankful for the freedom secured by those whom, as William Tyler Page noted in The American’s Creed, “sacrificed their lives and fortunes.” I also trust the Lord is leading us today to live more fully into what the creed describes as “those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity” upon which our nation was established.
Nevertheless, there is another, greater freedom for which people of all nations can be thankful—the freedom God gives. Freedom is the choice we have between what is good and what is not; it provides us the opportunity to love God and one another. When we are bound to people and ways that enslave us, we hear the God of Exodus proclaim, “Let my people go so that they may worship me” (Exodus 9:1). When in baptism we promise to accept the freedom and power God offers us, we acknowledge it can be used to resist all that is wrong, unjust and oppressive.
As our country celebrates the 4th of July and we settle into the freedom from routine that summer brings, be mindful of the even greater freedom God offers us in Christ. For it is in the choice to accept or reject God’s love that we can become holy. And it is in sharing this same freedom with others that we extend God’s love to a hurting world.
Happy 4th of July and happy summer!