It’s almost here: the day the United States celebrates its freedom from the tyranny of old King George and Mother England, and we do this by consuming 150 million hot dogs and shooting off 273 million pounds of fireworks. Take that, England. This upcoming holiday got me thinking about freedom. What freedom means and how we live in it. What we are freed from and who fought for our freedom. Because it took sacrifice and effort, and it should not be taken for granted. In fact, that’s why we celebrate Independence Day every year, complete with fireworks to bring to mind the bombs bursting in air and whatnot. Freedom is not to be taken lightly.
As Christians, we celebrate a different kind of freedom. Not just freedom from a bad dictator or corrupt government. No, we celebrate freedom from the tyranny of sin, death, and the power of the devil. Freedom from fear. Someone fought for our freedom. In fact, he gave his life for it, and we should never take that lightly. Our Lord Jesus scrawled his John Hancock on our Declaration of Independence by living a perfect life for us, dying on a cross for our sins, and rising from the dead so we could live free with him.
[Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll. . . . He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)
Boom. Don’t tread on me, Satan.
Jesus was declaring that he was the one the prophet Isaiah was talking about. He was the one who would bring freedom to the prisoners and release the oppressed (read: us). He was the one who would fulfill all the Old Testament prophecies in one fell swoop. The Jews whom Jesus was preaching to knew all about slavery and captivity. Egypt. Babylon. Rome. Over and over again God showed his people that they could not free themselves and that he was their rescuer.
“I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. . . . I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:6,7)
We are God’s people, and Jesus is still our rescuer. We were living in spiritual slavery, chasing false pursuits of supposed happiness—money, success, physical comfort. At some point, we realized that these temporal things are as empty as the calories in 150 million hot dogs. But while we still battle with sin, we are no longer slaves to it, because Jesus came down to fight that war to win our freedom.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14,15)
So now what? How do we live in that freedom? First off, a massive celebration is called for—fireworks, fellowship, joyous reunions, delicious food (all beef hotdogs, at the very least), and thankfulness to God for our freedom. Second, our citizenship calls for obedience to God and his Word. We are in his kingdom now, after all, and he is a good King. One who is worthy of honor and respect. Third, God doesn’t want us to be bound by fears and doubts. He wants us to enter the promised land of heaven, not continue wandering in the wilderness, scared of the enemies God has already defeated. We honor God by trusting in him and truly living in our freedom, joyously and fully.
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. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. (Galatians 5:1,13).