Do you ever wonder how much reflection actually takes place on a long 4th of July weekend such as this year’s? It feels like it’s become so customary to make sure that we have a great cookout or party lined up, or to go to Summerfest with our coolest red, white, and blue garb on, or to attend the best and loudest fireworks show around. But stopping to meditate on the lives lost in battle, or the lives lived in pursuit of protecting or enhancing freedom - that’s so much harder to find time for. We are, after all, the proverbial fish that forget we live in water. As Americans, the comfort of our freedom is so constant and sedating that we’d completely forget the cost paid for it all if not for reminders like national holidays with patriotic axioms attached to them. Of course, I speak in generalities that aren’t entirely fair. But you know I’m right.
How much more true it is of the freedom that Christians have! Even though we’re still nagged every day by the effects of sin in our natures and bodies, we get to live every day with the knowledge that our destinies are bound for heavenly bliss, instead of the placement in hell that we’ve earned and deserve.
But do we take full advantage of our freedoms, both earthly and eternal? Do we Americans thank the Lord for the fate of being born in, or being able to emigrate to America, AND to be registered in the ledger of heaven’s citizenship too?
In Galatians 5:13 it says, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
St. Paul wrote these words originally to believers who were being led astray by a teaching that one must remain obligated to the tradition of circumcision to be considered a true believer. The truth of these words bears application for so much more, though. Our freedom in Christ isn’t for us to place extra rules upon ourselves in fake piety, nor is it for us to focus on ourselves at all! Our call out of spiritual darkness and into the light and freedom of God is actually opportunity to unleash ourselves on this world to do good things. We are free to serve others, instead of being stuck with only serving ourselves, as we surely would around the clock if we weren’t saved.
So this year, let me encourage you to be appreciative of the freedom that others won for us as Americans, which is continually defended to this day. But even more so, let’s be appreciative of our spiritual freedom in Christ, and let’s unleash our gratitude for being captives no more, by going out and serving others. Let’s see how far our reach can get in this world of hurting, needful fellow human beings, now that we’re no longer tethered to ourselves in our sin. In Jesus we are free indeed! We have a message of hope for the life to come, and help for making it through this one. We have mouths, hearts, and hands that are equipped by the Lord to do good deeds and give others a hand up when in trouble, or to speak words of encouragement, such as the Pro-Life message. We have opportunity to let God use us to change the here-and-now situations, as well as the eternities, of everyone around us. Let us make the most of our freedoms!
Author: Jeff Ulrich
Jeff is a husband, father, and graduate school student. He attends Hope Lutheran in Oconomowoc. Jeff’s background in ministry education and future in the counseling field reflect a heart that loves to serve others and make a difference. He shares his personal or spiritual reflections in his own time at www.missionpossiblejeffulrich.blogspot.com
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