July 4 – a day of fireworks, barbeques, swim parties, and celebrations. For many, it is a day off from work to relax and enjoy time with family. Most of us (me included) don’t give a second thought to what Independence Day is all about. Like you, I studied it in school; however, that was a long time ago, and my memory isn’t serving me well these days regarding random historical facts! I decided to do a little digging. There is much I could say about this holiday, but I know if I delve into a history lesson, many of you may quit reading. Sorry, history teachers, I don’t mean to offend you!
While not everyone experienced complete freedom when the Declaration of Independence was signed long ago, July 4 is America’s holiday to celebrate independence. We commemorate freedom from British rule and freedom to believe what we want (religion), speak what we feel (speech), and protest peacefully (assemble).
There is no question we are free from British rule today; however, some may argue that freedom of religion, speech, and assembly are coming under fire. I can’t say I disagree, but I want to shift our thinking away from what is happening around us to what is happening inside us. True freedom doesn’t come from the government. True freedom comes from knowing the truth. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
What is the truth? From God’s viewpoint, truth is His Word and, of course, Jesus.
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Just like the United States had to separate from Britain to obtain freedom, we must also experience a separation to enjoy true freedom. We have to be willing to leave the world behind and choose Jesus. Only then will we experience freedom from the bondage of sin and freedom to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:23).
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
We don’t have to rely on our government, our circumstances, or our work environments to experience true freedom. True freedom is a matter of the heart. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Once we have this true freedom, what are we free to say and do? Many Christian educators today don’t feel free to express their faith and beliefs in the work place. Although it feels like some of our freedoms are squelched these days, we should not be deterred. There are many freedoms we do have! When we freely walk in the power of the Holy Spirit through obedience to God’s Word, we are free to…
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
Christians have a great deal of freedom in Christ. However, not everything is beneficial or constructive. Our freedom in Christ must be balanced by a desire to build up and benefit others. When deciding how to exercise our Christian freedom, we ought to seek the good of others before our own good (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). With freedom comes responsibility and opportunities to point others to Jesus.
I pray this Independence Day is a special one for you. I want to encourage you as a Christian educator to embrace your true freedom in Christ! Live your life out loud, exercise your freedoms, and set off some fireworks of your own!
To God be the glory! Happy 4th of July!