Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day in the United States—a celebration that continues today with a holiday Monday and long weekend for many Americans. However, the Fourth of July is a day that deserves a moment or two of reflection. The freedom we enjoy to play our favorite games (I have a tee time set for this afternoon), watch our favorite sports, and cheer for our favorite teams and players is a gift that we have because of the price that someone else paid. Certainly this should be obvious to us as a nation. But, going a bit further with this idea of freedom, we must also be willing to recognize that this freedom we share as a nation is not a toy to play with, it is a stewardship to manage. While our freedom gives us great latitude to do many things, we must be careful that we do not seek to turn that freedom into a license to hurt or harm others, to consume or destroy thoughtlessly, or to selfishly pursue personal pleasure at the expense of the needs of the whole. Freedom is a responsibility, not a plaything—which is why a land of freedom still must have and enforce laws. Our freedom must never be reduced to a proverbial e-ticket ride at Disneyland. We let freedom ring and we honor the sacrifice of those who purchased it by wisely using that freedom for the benefit of others.
It seems to me that there is an obvious connection here to the spiritual realm. Our spiritual freedom, which liberated us from the consequences and curse of our sin, was purchased at the greatest of all possible prices—the suffering, death, and blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Once again, however, this freedom was never intended to be seen as the freedom to do whatever we want. It is freedom from those things that would enslave us to perpetually doing the wrong. It is the freedom that makes us free in Christ—so free that we can give ourselves away. Writing to a church fellowship that was struggling to understand the freedom purchased by the cross of Christ, the apostle Paul wrote:
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
We have been given freedom in Christ, but the very best way we can celebrate that freedom is by using it as a platform for serving others. That was the example Christ set for us, saying and showing that He had not come to be served but to serve and to give Himself for us (Matthew 20:28). We not only follow His example, but we honor His sacrifice by doing likewise. That is what I believe it truly means to let freedom ring.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain