This Sunday, Americans around the country will celebrate their freedom. We’ll grill hamburgers, eat watermelon, and shoot fireworks to celebrate our freedom as a nation. We Americans love our freedom. It is central to who we are.
The Christian faith has something to say about freedom. According to the Bible, God longs for people to breathe free. The central story of our Old Testament (Exodus) speaks of God freeing his people from cruel slavery and leading them to New Life in a New Land. In our New Testament, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “For freedom Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).”
Yet Paul also reminds us that our freedom is not absolute; we are not free to do anything we want. He warns us, “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence (Galatians 5:13).” As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “My right (freedom) to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.”
Rather, our freedom in Christ is a gift that allows us to live differently in this world. It allows us to live into what Paul claims is the entire message of the Bible: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5: 14).”
We are freed from whatever holds us captive (a sin, a hurt, an addiction) that we might live lives of Love.
That sounds like a message our world needs today.