Listen to: Sweet Honey in the Rock “I Woke Up This Morning with my Mind Stayed on Freedom”
What does freedom mean to you? Depending on your life circumstances, freedom may mean something different or have a special focus. For some the most important item is financial freedom, so one can live where one wants, and enjoy other amenities of life. For someone else, freedom from violence, whether it’s a safe neighborhood clear of gang fights or an abusive partner is freedom. For others the right to speak one’s mind without reprisals, to assemble, to worship however one wants; for some the right to bear arms is valued.
Most of us cherish all these freedoms, to one degree or another. Undergirding all these freedoms however is spiritual freedom that gives a critical moral compass. Spiritual freedom is achieved only through a relationship with God and God’s word, as Jesus taught, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection have won for us a spiritual freedom. However it is a spiritual freedom not focused just on what we get, but what we can do for others. Spiritual freedom is measured in our ability to love and care for others. Spiritual freedom enables us to be other-focused not self-focused. The spirit of Jesus enables us to rise above our own wants and needs and be drawn to acts of sacrificial care of our neighbor. To donate money to a worthy cause. To give our time to help an elderly person or assist at a food pantry. To call government representatives, write a letter, or advocate on an important social issue. Through Christ we are freed from the chains of selfishness to feel the lack of freedom that others experience. Through the free Spirit of Christ, we are compelled to act.
On this Fourth of July, let us remember all the freedoms we have come to cherish and let us protect them. However, let us remember Paul’s words: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17. If we are spiritually free, we know the greatest blessing of all, a freedom of freedoms, God’s love in action through our very lives.
Happy Independence Day!
Prayer: God of Freedom: Set us free from sin and all fears and doubts and set us free to serve you in those you place in our lives. Amen.