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Here it is again, the Fourth of July, Independence Day. Every year we set aside this day for families to gather, for fireworks to fly, to simply celebrate the freedom that all Americans share.
Our freedoms were won with the blood and toil of our founding fathers. Our freedoms have been maintained with the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands since. We have learned to apply our freedoms to men and women of all races, though we struggle with those things still.
Sadly freedom is costly, hard to earn and hard to maintain. At the same time freedom slips away so easily. We get too comfortable, we get too complacent. We ignore the responsibilities of freedom, and freedom begins to fade. We forget that our freedoms do not come from the hands of men, but from the heart of God himself.
The Declaration of Independence says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Our creator has given us these rights, and to him we owe thanksgiving. John Adams, second president of the United States, once said of the Fourth of July, “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.”
In the book of Galatians, Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1 NIV). He is reminding us that our freedoms are fragile. We easily surrender ourselves back into slavery. We seek a false security, and give up a little liberty. We want the benefits of freedom without paying the price in responsibility, and real freedom starts to slip away.
This week, as you enjoy the fireworks or the hot dogs, as you spend time with your family, remember to give thanks to God. Remember to ask him to help us not only preserve and protect our freedoms, but to understand them. There is a difference between liberty and license, and we cross that line all too often.
The cross of Christ is where true freedom begins, because there Jesus paid the price to free us from sin and death and hell and the grave. Every freedom we have ultimately flows from that moment. In Jesus we have the freedom to live right, to live justly, and to live compassionately. That is real freedom; a freedom that makes us better as men and women, better as a people, better as a nation. Let’s embrace the freedom that only Jesus can give, so that we can live as a truly free people. God bless America.