In 1988, I spent the 4th of July in an unusual place – The People’s Republic of China. In the country that invented fireworks and that seemed to have watermelon everywhere, our American group celebrated our country’s birth by inviting our Chinese friends to a day of playing games to give them a little taste of how we celebrate. But, sadly, I couldn’t give them a taste of why we celebrate – the freedom that we declared on that day in 1776 and still enjoy. Nothing will make you appreciate The Bill of Rights and the freedom we have in the U.S. like being in a Communist country on Independence Day. I will never forget it.
Thankful as I am for my freedom in America, there is another freedom I am given to enjoy as well. That is the freedom that comes with knowing Christ.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
The whole focus of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was freedom. These Gentiles had heard Paul’s message of forgiveness through faith in Christ and had believed. But now some Judaizers had come in, telling these Gentiles that faith in Christ wasn’t enough. No – they also had to obey the Mosaic Law. In this letter, Paul lays out argument after argument for faith alone and not works for salvation. Those works were the “yoke of slavery” Paul refers to here.
It’s wonderful that we annually celebrate our American freedom and how we got here. I love how The History Channel and others have special shows on this week about the American Revolution. It’s a significant thing to not forget.
Maybe I need a way to also ponder on and celebrate my freedom in Christ like I do on July 4th. Because if I’m not careful, I can forget about it and not appreciate it. I can let that “yoke of slavery” slip back over my neck. I’m the oldest child, and I like rules. I like to follow them and get them all right. I like to meet the expectations of others. I like to be liked. Not all bad character traits, but they can make you a likely candidate for forgetting freedom in Christ!
Here are just a few areas where Christ has purchased my freedom:
- Freedom from sin – Romans 6:6-7, 14
- Freedom from the Law – Galatians 3:24-25, 5:18
- Freedom from pleasing people – Galatians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 5:9
- Freedom from fear – 1 John 4:18
- Freedom from anxiety – Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 6:25-34
- Freedom from bitterness towards those who have wronged me – Colossians 3:12-15; Matthew 18:21-35
Just as I treasure my freedoms as an American and would fight to keep them, I need to treasure these freedoms in Christ and fight to enjoy them and not allow myself to revert to the legalism of my flesh. Just as I remember and appreciate the story of what our Founding Fathers did to win and encode our freedoms in the United States, I need to remember the gospel.
Freedom is purchased with blood. Every year we remember and appreciate that in the U.S. on the 4th of July and on Memorial Day and on Veteran’s Day. But more than those sacrifices, great as each one was, is the sacrifice of Christ that we celebrate on Good Friday. He shed His blood that I might be free. So celebrate freedom this week! And enjoy it, being careful to not put back on that “yoke of slavery”.