Let’s not waste the gift of freedom – happy 4th of July!

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:34-36

Image from the Internet

We love to celebrate, don’t we? Parades, fireworks, cookouts, parties; waving the flag; making a lot of noise about the fact that this nation was imagined, conceived, and born into the most clear-cut and well-articulated vision for freedom this world has ever seen.

But do we live into that ideal? Or do we take it all for granted, talk a big game, and then wake up every morning in a different kind of reality, one where we have given away the very thing that so many gave so much to secure, and then so many more have given everything to maintain?

I look around and see so many people living in chains. Consumerism, fear, poverty, prejudice, manipulations and lies, peer pressure, greed, debt, political ideas they haven’t thought through, addictions….

A couple of days ago I drove my grandchildren back to Richmond, and I thought about the endless possibilities represented by their young lives. This is America! They can grow up to be and to do anything. But only if they really understand freedom, and if they live freedom, and if they equip themselves with the tools necessary to enjoy freedom.

Not so much a freedom “from” as freedom “for.” My grandchildren are going to need a great education, they’re going to need to stay out of debt, they’re going to need to live in a culture that has learned to respect other people for who they are, they’re going to need access to resources (including affordable health care), and they’re going to need a purpose to live for and into.

This last one may be the most important. On the face of it, freedom suggests that we live for ourselves, as if it’s all about us; but living for self turns out to set up so many of the stumbling blocks (debt, addiction, prejudice, consumerism…) that take away freedom. In an ironical twist, we tend to be the most free when we love God, follow Jesus, and live for others.

So that is what I pray for our grandchildren this July 4th; I pray that they grow up to love God, to follow Jesus, and to live for others. Then they will experience freedom in a way that even the founding fathers and mothers couldn’t begin to imagine.

Happy Fourth – DEREK


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