This fourth of July weekend we will fire up the grill, cool off by the pool, eat watermelon, and hang out with friends and family while watching fireworks. Chances are that, at some point, discussions will be had about the state of our country, and anxieties will be aired. There is widespread concern about the health of our democracy rooted in an ineffective legislature, the quality (or lack thereof) available for Presidential leadership, about immigration policy, about ongoing violence, and about the general lack of clarity regarding what holds us together as Americans.
We are, thank God, blessed to enjoy living in the land of the free, and that is to be celebrated. As Christians and Americans, we should also spend some time reflecting on what exactly our freedom is for. Freedom implies we are free from something that binds us while at the same time implying that we are free to do something we could not when we were bound. In popular conversations we often talk about our freedom as though it means we ought to be allowed to do whatever we want without boundaries or concerns for the impact of our behavior on others. This is simply irresponsible and a destructive way to live. If I choose to change lanes while driving because “it’s a free country” regardless of whether someone else is in that lane or not, I will cause a crash, destruction of property and endangerment to human life.
Paul’s words to the Galatians make a specific point: God calls us to be free from the burden of trying to earn a right relationship with God on our own power so we can be free to live fully in the grace and Spirit of Jesus Christ! In Christ, we are free from the burden of living by a list of 613 rules and free to love and serve God and others by following the Spirit!
I find Paul’s words not only a great reminder to Christians about the purpose of our lives but also a great reminder of what makes a democracy work…those who freely, lovingly choose to serve one another. Freedom is, after all, not given primarily for our personal enjoyment but for service to the greater good God intends for creation in God’s Kingdom.
Lord, help us all look for ways to use our freedom to serve and love one another in our families, our church, our community, our country, and our world by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.