Freedom is never free. It is never without cost.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.
The Desire to be Free
When I was 18 years old, I remember feeling that I couldn’t wait to get out of my parent’s house and on my own.
I was in their house, living by their rules. For the most part, I was told what to eat, when to sleep, and the time I should be home in the evening.
More so when I was younger. Less so the older I got.
While I don’t remember actually saying so, I must have felt it, surely. That I was trapped in my parents’ house. I must have felt, at least some of the time, that I was a slave or a prisoner.
With sons of my own, I realize how dumb it was to feel that way. And I dread the day that my sons will no longer be living with my wife and me.
But it is the desire of all humans to be free. There is a yearning to be liberated deep in our souls. Free from our parents’ rules and regulations. Also free from tyrannical governments, as well.
This is how I imagine the people of the 13 colonies of the British Empire on the eastern seaboard of North America felt in the 1760’s. The majority of citizens felt an increasing desire for freedom from King George III and the rule of Great Britain.
This desire culminated in the Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776 by the Second Continental Congress and signed by 56 delegates.
But a piece of parchment signed by dozens of people is merely a desire to be free. The cost of that freedom would be the effort, sweat and blood of patriots.
Which is exactly what would happen.
That is the way it is with freedom. It has a cost. Many times, a high cost.
The people of the United States remember that cost and celebrate that freedom each Fourth of July.
Still, the desire to be free runs deep in all people, not just citizens of the United States.
Every person desires to be free from the slavery to sin. For we are all born into that slavery.
Freedom from sin is ours as a free gift from God.
But we would do well to remember that while freedom from sin is free, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a cost.
It is free to us. But it cost Jesus Christ his blood and life.
A cost he willingly paid because of his love for us.
And that love for us gives us the responsibility of our freedom.
What will each of us do with the freedom given to us? How will we respond to it?
Our responsibility is our response to Christ’s love: love God and love our neighbors.
Christ fought for our freedom. We were silent in that fight because we had nothing to contribute to it. We could only receive the benefits of that fight.
But now that Christ won our freedom, we can love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength. We can also love our neighbors as ourselves.
Which is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind as the pursuit of happiness!
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking at the National Conference of Citizenship in 2005, said that, for founding fathers, “Happiness meant that feeling of self-worth and dignity you acquire by contributing to your community and to its civic life.”
That sure sounds a lot like what Jesus was saying about loving God and loving our neighbor.
Heavenly Father, in whose name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of [the United States] may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace. in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(based on a prayer in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA)
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