Blog 365 · Holidays

The Ache for Freedom

Flags waving at every house, red-white-and-blue shirts and shorts, barbecues, independence-themed hashtags, parades, fireworks – these are the signs of a country with close to 319 million people celebrating their independence. It’s tradition, it’s meaningful, it’s patriotic – it’s what Americans know as the 4th of July.

Two hundred and forty years ago, our forefathers wrote “that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” And because of those rights, they declared themselves free from an unjust government.

In this iconic document, I believe they captured a valid truth – that all men and women do indeed long for liberty and the pursuit of a life lived to the fullest. Yet is that something that a national document can give to its citizens? Is that promise something that can be fulfilled to anyone who seeks after this “American dream”? Many people living in America are much more affluent than other countries, but does that affluence actually equal freedom of the soul?

Despite all the luxuries that money can buy and education can earn and promotions can garner, many people in America are still aching for the freedom that seems so elusive – because their souls are enslaved to the enemy. In believing the false hope that America’s greatness will bring them personal success, they are led down a pathway that is always hopeful, but oftentimes disappointing.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I love the country in which I live. I’m grateful for our history and the faithful men and women who built a strong foundation for future generations. I am so thankful for the blessings that living in a free country have brought me – but if I look only to those material blessings to fulfill me, I will end up dissatisfied.

Christ alone is the ultimate freedom-giver. As I read Hebrews 2 this morning, it once again struck me of the profound grace that He has lavished upon us. He knows our every weakness, yet instead of condemning us for those weaknesses, He offers sweet mercy – and offers complete freedom from those enslaving sins.

Not only does He pardon our sins, but as our sympathetic High Priest, He understands our struggles. In fact, it says in Hebrews 2:18 that He suffered when He was tempted. He didn’t just brush off the temptations like a strong man brushing off weak cords. He felt the pain of the suffering in the temptations which means that He is all the more understanding when we struggle.

He lovingly extends His empathy, but it doesn’t end there. He died and overcame those sins that seem so monstrous in our eyes. He didn’t want us to be enslaved to them any longer, because He knows the ultimate power of being free. When we put our trust in Christ, we are putting our trust in His strength and power to overcome the sins and struggles in our lives, bringing us the fullest of joy.

Americans rely heavily on the image of the “self-made” man or woman. We value independence to the point that we don’t want to have to take help from other people. People think of it as a sign of weakness if we give up, can’t go on, or show our flaws.

Christ, however, already knows how weak we are. We don’t need to pretend that we have strength with Him, because He knows we don’t. So rather than keep on pretending that we’ve got it together, why don’t we just admit our flaws and bring them to the Cross? There He’s already atoned for those sins – there He has pardon readily available – there He lavishes love unstoppable upon our brokenness.

When we accept that grace and give up our chains of bondage to self and sin, there comes the freedom that every man, woman, and child has been aching for their whole lives. It’s the kind of freedom that one wants to celebrate with fireworks and parades and joyous music – because there is nothing else like it in all the world. It liberates us to the fullest of lives filled with the greatest of happiness – happiness in Christ.

I love our patriotism and cultural traditions. I love our history books and the story of America, the young nation eager to create a space for people to freely live and pursue the things they love.

But even more I love the story of a God who came to Earth to create freedom for people no matter where they live, no matter what their social status, no matter who they are. I love that He is the Author of freedom, and that He’s written it into our DNA. We know that we were meant to be free – and if we surrender our lives to our Creator, then He gives us the greatest freedom we will ever know.

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