By the time you read this it will be at least several days after the 4th of July.  But as I sit here today on the 4th and reflect on how thankful I am for the freedom we have in our country, I'm struck by the irony that so many things are closed right now and we're confined to our homes.  On a typical 4th of July, my family would usually go to my brother's house, see other friends and relatives, barbecue in the backyard, watch sports on tv while the kids swim, and in the evening watch the fireworks show over Disneyland.  Well because of the pandemic this year, there's no gathering, no socializing, no barbecue, no sports (unless you count golf or NASCAR), and no fireworks show because Disneyland is closed.  What an unusual time in our nation's history or in world history for that matter.  

Freedom from tyranny and the independence we celebrate today in our nation started with the idea that God created human beings to be free.  In the Declaration of Independence, it says we are all "endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  Who remembers that from your history class?  In the same way that freedom is foundational to our country, freedom and liberty are central to the gospel message.  And the freedom that Christ offers has implications for all of mankind.

In the dictionary, "freedom" is defined as the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.  But we must first understand that there are things that enslave us.  Greed, pride, addiction, anger, resentment, are just some of the sins that can hold us in bondage and control our attitudes and behaviors.  In John 8:34, Jesus explains to believers “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin."  Maybe you can relate to this but I know that some of my most frustrating times in my Christian life have been when I do things I don't want to do or know I shouldn't do.  Some are what we would call habitual sins.  Have you had that struggle?  In Romans 6 and 7, the Apostle Paul describes this struggle and how all of us by nature are slaves to sin.  At the close of chapter 7, he says "So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."  The situation almost seems hopeless.  But then in the very next verses, he declares the truth of God's liberation.  Romans 8:1-2 says "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." 

Praise God!  Through His life, His death on the cross, and His bodily resurrection, Jesus has liberated us from imprisonment and the grip that sin, the things of this world, and Satan may have on us.  This freedom comes through Christ alone!  On the 4th of July, we celebrate our nation's independence which we should.  Though our country is far from perfect and the political environment is especially difficult, we are blessed to have the freedom we do in this country and are grateful for those who have served to protect it.  True freedom and liberation, however, comes from God.  He is the author of freedom.  And Jesus the Son is the only one who can deliver us from a life of imprisonment and oppression, and give us eternal life.  Jesus says to His children in John 8:35-36, "the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son (or daughter) remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." 

God bless you.  Have a great week!

Pastor Darren