It’s just a word.
Oh, but what a word it is.
It means so much to so many. In America, we value this word above just about any other. For us, it means the right to speak, the right to assemble, the right to vote. The word is truly special to us. So much so, that men and women have died to protect what this one word stand for. Yes it is just a word, but what it represents for us is well – everything. Without freedom, life would surely be very different for us.
We tend to take this word for granted in America. In a way, it’s a nice problem to have. Imagine living in a country so free, that children are born, grow up, and live their entire lives never knowing what it’s like not having the freedoms we hold dear. Of course, it seems sometimes we are a little spoiled. How many times have you seen someone complaining at a restaurant about the service, or at a grocery store because the line of 3 or 4 people is moving too slowly. Haven’t we all been in a hurry and been annoyed at things like these?
Today in other parts of the world, there are people who have never been to a restaurant. There are people who wait an entire day in the hot sun for a handful of grain, or a bottle of water for their families. Yes I know we know this. With 24/7 news, we all know what goes on in the world. Sometimes I think for many of us it’s kind of surreal. Many of us seem so far removed from the despair, war, and poverty of the world, that we simply are so – well – spoiled. Would it surprise you to know that there are people within this country who also struggle to eat three meals a day, who don’t have a place to live, who don’t have the money to sit at a restaurant?
But back to freedom.
Is there a different kind of freedom, one that supersedes the basic human freedoms we treasure? What is the most basic freedom a human being can strive for, the primary freedom we should protect and fight to maintain?
Maybe Jesus can help.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
Remember that this country was founded primarily by Christians. Surely these Christians were aware of the teachings of Jesus. They knew there was a freedom greater than any other, and to possess that freedom, one had to first know the truth. You see, Christians believe that truth is absolute, not relative. We know the absolute truth that Jesus is Messiah. From that truth, comes the absolute primary freedom, freedom from sin.
“….Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the son abideth ever. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
So we look at the news around the world, and we see wars, protests, famine, hunger, oppression, and we think, thank God for America. Those things don’t happen here. We are truly free. Are we? Don’t we see those things here too? I remember seeing earthquake victims in the middle of Haiti, dancing in a church and praising God. How could these people, in a country where people are oppressed and after a disaster like this dance in joy? Maybe they understood they were free from the bondage of sin.
How many people in America are still in bondage, slaves to sin? We have all seen people who are slaves to drugs and alcohol. We are very well aware of people who are slaves to gambling, or who serve the almighty dollar, and end up losing their families over it. How many times have we seen families destroyed by adultery, addiction, crime? Our jails are full of men and women incarcerated as a result of bondage to sin. How many of us walk around this country, enjoying the freedoms won by our founding fathers, yet enslaved because we fail to recognize the one absolute truth that will set us free, no matter where we live and what our government chooses to do?
The freedoms we enjoy in this country are truly great. I thank God for them. But just like we earned those freedoms through the blood and sweat of those who came before us, they can be taken from us as well. There is a greater freedom. That freedom was not earned. We did nothing to win it. It was a gift, given to us by the grace of God, through His son:
“And he took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
There is no love greater than the love of Jesus. Without it, we are all bound to sin. The blood He shed on the cross was His atonement for our sins, sins for which we deserved to atone for, sins for which we deserved God’s wrath. He atoned for them instead, because His love for us was THAT great. His victory on the cross is our victory from evil, from sin. All He asks in turn is that we believe in Him, and follow His two commandments, love God and your neighbors. This is the absolute truth that grants me the greatest freedom anyone can ever have.
I don’t know what the future holds for America. The news is not always so great. We have economic issues. We have social issues. We have issues that sometimes seem like they could send this country into despair. But I have hope for us still. This country was founded by Christians, and as such, it was founded on that one absolute truth. No matter what happens, if we surrender are lives to Jesus Christ, there is one freedom no man will ever be able to take from us. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I will be able to proudly say…
Yes, I am free.