I thought that being between arguably the two most widely celebrated federal holidays-Memorial Day and Independance Day-it would do us well to consider the concept of freedom.
Two songs will help show us the way Christians ought to view freedom. The first is a verse from Bates' famous hymn America the Beautiful:
America, America, God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.
And Michael Card's Joy in the Journey:
There is a joy in the journey, there's a light we can love on the way.
There is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for those who obey.
The concept of freedom is closely tied to the law. Bates notes that our liberty as Americans is found in confirmation of the law. That is, it exists only insofar as the law restrains the powers of the government and restrains the wrath that some men wish to inflict on others.
Yet while this freedom is wonderful for various purposes it falls far short of the freedom humans need to live in communion with God. While we may divide ourselves into countries and nations in this world, the truth is that there are ultimately only two kingdoms; that of God and that of Satan. All of us by nature belong to the latter realm and can only immigrate, as it were, to the fairer country by the bridge provided in Jesus Christ's sacrifice.
But once that is accomplished, what next? What are we supposed to do with the freedom Christ has granted us from Our Father below? Keep it. Of course, only by God's grace can it be done, but it must be done. We keep our freedom by following the commandments. Just as the Bill of Rights makes us free as Americans, as Christians it is in obedience to the Lord that we find liberty.
The freedom we enjoy as Americans is not license to do whatever we wish. Our liberty in Christ is the same. It is not the freedom to sin liberally. It is not even to test the waters and see how far we can go without violating the Divine will. It is the freedom to love God and our Neighbor as we love ourselves. It is the freedom to live unselfishly. It is the freedom to live the life God intended for mankind...the very life he possesses and into which he draws us. In short, it is the freedom to act Justly. This is the path of joy precisely because it is the road that leads to communion with God...whose presense is joy.
As Christians, we have the freedom to keep the law and in keeping it, the freedom Christ has granted and is granting, is preserved. Ben Franklin told someone after the signing of the Constitution-"you have a republic, if you can keep it." He meant you have freedom because we have devised laws that, if you follow, will preserve that liberty. As the rule of law erodes and disobedience to the laws which remain collapses, freedom ceases to exist.
You have been given the gift of a freed soul and will to serve the Mighty God. It is a paradox for sure to serve in order to be free. But as Anglican Christians it is the prayer we are to pray every morning-"O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom."
If you desire to know true freedom, love, serve, and obey God. And the chains of sin which bind our souls will melt in the sanctifying fire of the Holy Spirit.