Free- The Restricted Life of Independence

Celebrating Being Free

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The end of this week marks the declared Independence of the home of the free won by the brave in the United States. July 4th is the anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776. It is still celebrated 244 years later as a day of freedom. But as we look around us and perhaps consider how we may celebrate being free, we must ask ourselves how free are we? Are we leading a restricted life in our declared independence?

Currently, our world continues to be ravaged by COVID-19. People remain feeling anxious, impatient, frustrated, and critical of most everything even things that might promote the good of all. States in the U.S. that were reopening are quickly changing their minds. Many are now reversing decisions as new virus cases are on the rise. So, people who thought things might begin to turn back to “normal” and a freer life could be lived are now facing new mandates of mask-wearing, closures, and in some places back to home restrictions. Attitudes of complacency are turning to anger. For the more cooped up and restricted people feel the more critical they become.

Longing to be Truly Free

As humans, we feel our control is lost as our surroundings and world is turned on its side. This causes a variety of reactions, mostly negative. There is a rise in depression, helplessness, hopelessness, impatience, and displeasure turns to irritation with rising tempers. Many people are bored with being restricted and refrained. They long to see the people they love or do the activities that they enjoy. Others experiencing financial loss are desperate to turn things around and save a shred of what they had attempting to just survive. As a whole, everyone is sick and tired of being “sick and tired.” We long to be free of it all.

But it isn’t enough to just escape the stress. Life is more than a complicated endurance test or survival game of the fittest. It is greater than just coping with what slaps us in the face. Unlike what we may think, freedom, or the act of being free, however, doesn’t come from being more independent. Independence in itself is very restricting. It means we go at life alone, by ourselves, where the burden rests solely on our own shoulders. This is not being free; this is a restricted life. One that is full of the weight of the world without hope and results from being independent. It is into this kind of world that Christ came.

For you have been called to live in freedom my brothers and sisters, But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Galatians 5:13 (NLT)

Choosing Freedom to Sin or Freedom to Serve

Christ came to set us free. But this freedom is not to do whatever we want because that is the life we held before Him. It is one that enslaves us to our selfishness. Instead, He came to free us to do the impossible, which is to live unselfishly. It is only through Christ that we are free from sin and this should be an everyday celebration.

The freedom that Christ brings us is one that frees us to care for others. It is the freeing power to see all people as equals in the eyes of the law and the eyes of God. Jesus brings the freedom to serve not because we are forced to but because we can. He frees us to put love into action and celebrate not independence but interdependence. For only through a partnership with Him can we experience good in our lives and can offer ourselves for the good of others.

We should let our freedom ring with the singing of power, joy, and love that is accountable only to God and strive to help others. When we seek to appeal to God to have “our own way” we lose our freedom as we indulge in our desires. We can’t be both independent and interdependent at the same time. But an independent life is a burden- filled life. In that place, we have no helpmate or one to share our problems with. When we recognize and acknowledge through faith that we are saved and live a life that is pleasing to God we become free through Him. This is because interdependence is formed and a partnership of sharing results. For as we seek to serve God, Jesus perfected truth frees us to be all that God created us to be.

Living Freely

Faith tells us that we need a Savior to free us from sin. But our freedom requires a responsibility to make our life better and as we do, we share it with others. It is in this way that everyone benefits for we serve others as Christ serves us. If we set out for a life to please only ourselves, we in turn trap ourselves to the things of life.

These traps that enslave us maybe include things like living to please others, devoting ourselves to food or drugs to make us feel better, or even pleasing ourselves at the expense of others. All of these traps come from taking and creating a life solely focused on one that is “all about me.” But this is not freeing instead it is restrictive. For these traps do not make a happy life. But instead, create a binding life of chasing trying to achieve the next thing. And that chase or race is exhausting, and it never ends.

However, when we strive to live a life that is about relationships and building others up using things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We then live a life that is about caring, and this life is one of joy with pleasures to share. In other words, as it has been said, if we strive to please God first then what pleases us is to please God. It is in this life that there is freedom for we serve because we want to. Freedom from sin allows us to live freely to love God and others.

Celebrate Being Free

So, as we look to celebrating Independence Day let us thoughtfully remember. Every day when the sun rises in Washington DC, the initial rays fall on the eastern side of the city’s tallest structure, the 555-foot, Washington Monument. The first part of that monument that reflects the rising sun is the eastern side of its aluminum capstone. The words inscribed there read; Laus Deo, which is Latin for “Praise be to God.” This small phrase echoes the acknowledgment of the place of God not only in the founding of the U.S. but His needed continuance in all of our lives.

Won’t you also allow your life to reflect this freeing phrase? Experience the freedom of sharing not an independent life but an interdependent life with Christ! Root your convictions deeply in the words of Jesus, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT) Find motivation in knowing that you are free through Christ’s perfect truth to be all that God created you to be. And lastly, find comfort in knowing that it is only through an interdependent relationship with God that you can live a freeing life both on earth and for all eternity.

Happy 4th!

Love in Christ,

E.J.

Postscript

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.

John Diefenbaker

Extra Study

John 8:32,36; Acts 15:10; Galatians 2:4; 1 Peter 2:16

What are Your Thoughts?

Have you considered the restricted life of independence if you choose to carry your burdens alone? Share your thoughts on the freeing life that Christ gives you as you are free to serve because you are free from sin.

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