Today, I have the unique experience of celebrating one of the most important holidays to me in a country where the day has no special meaning. When you are surrounded by family and friends, it is easy to get caught up in the hoopla of the celebration and forget the real reason for the day.  However, when that is not happening around you, it really enables one to focus to the “why” of the holiday – Freedom.

What is freedom?  I was surprised to find that had seventeen definitions for the word freedom.  Yet, these clinical definitions do not really shed light on exactly what freedom implies.  Let me give you an example of this in using showing conflicting viewpoints:

Most who are born in the USA have a natural inclination to chafe when a new regulation encroaches on our life. Even the most necessary laws are met with a simple thought: “That is common sense, why do we need a law for that?” Now, consider the mindset in Finland. I once read that here, everything is forbidden unless there is a law stating that it is not. Everything has a regulation. To go into the number of surprises we have experienced would require a book, not a blog.

That said, I feel that I have as much (or maybe more) freedom here as I do in the USA. Let me share with you an example. We live on the corner lot of a moderately busy neighborhood street. It is interesting to watch the traffic at the intersection. Although there is no traffic signal or sign, everyone understands what is expected of them.  If someone approaches on the right, you yield the right-of-way.  If no one is at the intersection, there is no need to stop.  In the USA culture, this would cause multiple accidents and the installation of a stop sign. Is one solution better than the other? No, it is just two different views of the meaning of freedom.

Any time I stop and think of laws, my mind is taken to freedoms given to the Christian way of life. Through the ages, there have been many martyrs in this faith. Yet, none of them were punished or convicted for breaking the basic laws of their respective country.  Only through the twisting of existing law, or the creation of anti-Christian laws, could they be considered at fault in the courts. A case in point: Pilot tried to convince the Jews that Jesus was not a criminal. With all the seeming restrictions being placed upon Christianity you may ask, “How can you make such a claim?”

Well, as my good friend, Mike, says, “I’m so glad you asked!”

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

The Christian life is the only one in which there is total freedom.

But lest you forget, freedom is never free. Just as the American way of life was purchased through the spilled blood of men and women over the years, our Christian way of life was purchased be the spilled blood of Jesus.

Today, I invite you to remember the price paid so that we, as Americans, are able to enjoy freedom and, while you’re at it, remember the price that Jesus paid so that we could be spiritually free.

May God bless you, and may God bless America!

Galatians 5:1-26 (NLT)
1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? 8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. 9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! 10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.

11 Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. 12 I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves.

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. 


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