WISCONSIN – Fireworks and parades and ice cream cones and picnics… all a celebration of our Independence Day… won by so much blood and treasure. So many brave souls, many of whom we will never read about in print… These men and women of valor who put their own lives and desires aside for the betterment of future generations. A debt that none of us can ever repay.
Yes, living in the United States of America is a bit like winning the lottery – in terms of being blessed with the greatest country in the world. Most of all, we value our freedom, also referred to as liberty, and we value our culture of righteousness, also referred to as justice. “…one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Such cherished words in our Pledge of Allegiance. We innately know that these two things, liberty and justice, are what lead to true peace and joy.
And we also know that the God of The Holy Bible values freedom enormously. After all, the greatest freedom that He could allow would be for His children to have the authority to accept or even reject Him. And God allowed even that freedom. Quite a concession for the Creator of the universe…
But what is true freedom? Is it the opportunity to do whatever we feel like doing? To not have any restrictions? Or to live a life of pure comfort and pleasure, regardless of our fellowman? And just where do our rights begin to infringe upon the rights of others, who also may be on their own self-centered paths to freedom?
Society teaches that true freedom and self-fulfillment come from following our own inner path, even if that involves sin. But sin, even the smallest one, only shackles – causing guilt, fear, and addiction. Real freedom that results in a valued sense of self and also benefits others is found on a higher level. One that involves less self-interest and more looking outward – in search of both the real reason that we were created in the first place and also what true authentic freedom really means.
If we think deeply on the subject, genuine freedom essentially would be living one’s life with lack of fear, with only peace inside of our hearts. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would watch over our every move, and filter everything that comes to us? When something bad happened, this person would get us through it – and we’d be fine? Thus offering a guarantee for a safe and serene life?
God is that person. And genuine freedom is found only by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior who died for our sins and rose again. Then, we dig into the Bible and learn about Him, following His commandments – which are laws meant to keep us in His peace, since many things that we think will lead to happiness only lead to shackles and pain. The Apostle Paul agreed in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
King David knew well the power of leaning upon God. While he was on the run, we surely would not consider David ‘free.’ Most of us would be petrified if we had to live in caves, under heavy anxiety and fear for our lives constantly – and yet in David’s writings, he talks about the safety of the faithful. How he found inner freedom and peace by praying for guidance, saying prayers of faith while in distress, and then offering a prayer and praise for deliverance from his enemies – David knew that God would help him.
Indeed, if we welcome God into our hearts and listen to His voice, He promises extreme tranquility and virtue, as described in Isaiah 48:18: “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Yet without God, there will be constant turmoil in our lives.
As our beloved Billy Graham so eloquently put it: “I have never known anyone to accept Christ’s redemption and later regret it.” Wise choice indeed.