by Pastor David
“Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free”
These are the opening words of a post-Civil War African American freedom song penned by Lucy Kinchen. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has long been a cherished declaration of American ideals. The early American patriots sloganeered, “Live free or die.” Last week, we who are Americans celebrated Independence Day. God has been kind to give us our religious freedom and our history in a democracy that prizes individual liberty. It’s a blessing to be in a nation where we enjoy such freedom as Christians. Historically speaking, it’s also quite rare.
Perhaps it’s our familiarity with freedom that can make us calloused towards it. The generation whose hearts leaped at just the sight of the Statue of Liberty has faded, and with it some of the awe of being free. The generation who sacrificed convenience, property, and ultimately life to fight for freedom in World War II has largely been replaced by one who knows little experiential lack of any kind, let alone lack of freedoms.
Whether or not we take our American freedom for granted, whether we assume we deserve it or think little about the fact that we have it, it’s certainly possible for us to undervalue our freedom in Christ. It’s sad to not appreciate one’s national heritage; it’s devastating to not appreciate Christ’s liberating work.
In Galatians 5:1, Paul wrote “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Christ’s work on the cross was intentionally liberating. By keeping the Law for us, Christ freed us from the impossible task of perfection. By bringing the Law to its fulfillment, Christ ended the functional era of the Law and replaced it with His own Law. Christ’s whole intent in setting us free was that we would live in that freedom. The Galatians were toying with a return to slavery, choosing the submit to the yoke of the Law when they had already been freed from it.
It would be bizarre for an American citizen to insist on living under the laws of England. Once American became a nation, the early patriots thought it was insulting that anyone still wanted England to rule over them. In a similar way, Paul finds it ludicrous that anyone who knows the freedom of Christ would want to return to the slavery of the Law. In Christ, we are free from the yoke of a Law we could never bear. We are free from entire sets of rules and regulations. Do you know how good it is to be free? Do you celebrate your freedom in Christ, and worship God more deeply because of it? You are justified by the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not any Law. What glorious freedom!