“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
This is a beautiful expression of the good news of Jesus Christ, of the Gospel that we share. We are free! FREE! The concept of freedom is an interesting one as it only exists functionally in our minds when juxtaposed to its antithesis, its opposite. What is this opposite you ask? What is the opposite of freedom? Thankfully the same scripture reveals the dark polar opposite: slavery. Not just slavery, but it’s maniacal companion, a yoke. Slavery is not simply bondage or prison cells or chains or a sordid part of our nations’ past or a battle cry of our current political left; it is also mental and spiritual fatigue, anxiety, and worry. It is embarrassment and shame. It is isolation and loneliness. It is being a social outcast. The burden of slavery is so pervasive and oppressive that it slowly and diligently and purposefully separates us from the truth of whom we are as children of God and it becomes our own unique and personal identity and we unwittingly begin to smile while wearing its mask. This is a mask that none of asked for, but we all have embraced at one time or another. We have been slave to sin, all of humanity has. But for those of us who know Jesus Christ as Lord, we have hope for we are new creations set free from slavery. The old self, the one of the mask, has been crushed by the cross and a new identity in Christ is ours. We are free and we never have to go back.
Today, July 4th, Independence Day, is rife with symbols and meaning of the freedom for our nation, freedom from tyranny, from religious persecution, from taxation without representation (gotta love that dirty water, aww Boston your my home, do do, dododododo). Today we celebrate the most remarkable political and moral exercise in human history, the founding of the United States of America. This exercise began with these words (my emphasis):
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Wow! These guys could write, what poetry, what power, what a beautiful understanding of freedom for the sake of freedom! I love the opening line for it demonstrates an awareness of the general condition of man and the ongoing impact of sin. “When in the course of human events” tells us that it is inevitable that the nature of sin in humanity will raise up and need to be struck down. “It becomes necessary for one people to” informs us that they understood that we are not subject to the impact of sin but are set free from it and can choose to not be burdened by it. The founding fathers words cry forth filled with the sentiment of Galatians 5:1.
Today, in 2015, our nation is once again fighting a civil war. It is different than it once was as bayonets have been replaced with facebook, cannon balls with diatribes, and north and south have been replaced by right and left. In the midst of all this stands the one who set us all free and Jesus screams into the battlefield, “come to me all ye who are heaven burden and I will give you rest.”
This civil war is not being fought in Ferguson or Baltimore or South Carolina or Washington D.C. It is being waged in the minds of men and women who are being confronted by feeble ideas, flaming arrows from the left and from the right that purport to be self-evident truths, but they are far from it. They are distortions of truth veiled in flawed diamonds and faulty promises delivered by men and women who, through the course of human events have come to believe only in themselves for they dig themselves broken cisterns that hold no water.
These arrows have been crafted in the darkness, made by the evil one. In the battle of ideas there is only one source that offers truth with a capital “T,” that is God, the creator of heaven and earth, and his son Jesus through whom we are set free and we know these things to be true because it is written in God’s word which is above reproach and understandable by the power of the Holy Spirit who alone knows the mind of God but helps us to know as well.
So today, July 4, 2015, when you are enjoying your swimming pools and barbecues, fireworks and family, if the battle gets hot and it becomes necessary to deflect the arrows of the left, the right and the evil one, do so with confidence knowing that you are no longer wearing a mask, you are no longer burden by sin, you are no longer a slave.
Be gracious when you answer. Your enemy is not King George or George Washington, Liberals on the Left or Republicans on the Right, Talk Show talking Heads or the Drive by Media. Our enemy in this not-so-civil-war roams the world seeking to devour, kill and destroy. He is the one that we are saved from and whose yoke we no longer bear, for we are a people set free! Praise be to God.