Freedom . . . America was built on the principle of freedom, particularly freedom of religion. Jesus made it quite clear that part of His mission here on earth was to set us free. We were created with an inherent desire to be free. And everyone knows that being a slave, even to a kind and wonderful master, is not the life humans were made for.
American independence became official in 1776; however, the spirit of freedom started long before. It may have begun in 1620 when 103 individuals boarded a ship to America to have the freedom to worship God without fear of reprimand from the Church of England. More than 50 of those original passengers lost their life that first winter, but even with such great loss, when the Mayflower returned to Europe in April of 1621, those who had survived stayed in this land of freedom.
Spiritual independence began on the cross and was completed at the resurrection when Jesus defeated death and gave us a way to break free from the slavery of sin. The Apostles risked their very lives to spread the word about this freedom and Paul spent time in prison to make sure those who had never known the truth of a Creator could meet the Son who could set them free.
Today, close to 2000 years since Christ gave His all and almost 400 since those first Americans risked their lives to worship the One who proclaimed their freedom, it appears as though we may be taking both for granted. We too often forget the price that was paid for our freedoms.
The Revolutionary War seems so long ago. Most Americans don’t even give it a second thought anymore. However, more than 4,000 lost their life and another 6,000 were wounded. Since that time countless others have put themselves in harms way in order to defend our freedoms and allow those of us who stay at home to feel safe.
Prior to Christ’s death, the nation of Israel lived with rules, sacrifices and fear. They worked hard to live up to the standard God had set. But they were slaves to the commandments, and their inability to follow them had made them slaves to Babylon, Persia and eventually Rome. They waited for a Messiah to free them from their bondage. They didn’t realize their release from Roman rule was much less important than the freedom that Christ brought.
Perhaps the pilgrims understood the magnitude of what Christ’s death and resurrection meant. Although others had come to America to “colonize” the new land, these believers were the first to stick it out despite incredible loss. They were willing to risk their lives to live in a place where they could be free to worship. Do we appreciate Christ’s sacrifice enough to give up everything we know just to worship Him?
On Independence Day, I pray our celebration will be more than picnics and fireworks. May the fun of the day never stop us from worshipping the One who made the day possible. My prayer is that each of us will truly appreciate all of our freedoms, spiritual and physical and we will help those around us understand the great gift we have received. This year let’s celebrate our freedom to worship, our freedom to work and speak, our freedom to truly live. Let’s celebrate our freedom in the Son. Because when the Son sets us free, we are free indeed.