Today we celebrate our nation's Independence Day and the Freedom that we have enjoyed in this nation. As Christians, we can celebrate a freedom that is greater than anything offered by any earthly nation; a freedom which we can enjoy no matter what external factors, circumstances, or physical oppressions seem to be piled upon us. It is a freedom that transcends national and ethnic boundaries and can be enjoyed by all, regardless of the situation or circumstances into which they were born. It is the freedom to be truly and fully who we were created to be.
St. Paul teaches us in his epistle to the Ephesians, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:8-10) Notice that Paul is teaching us that we are the workmanship of God, which coincides with what we learned in Genesis 1:26 that we were created in the image and likeness of God Almighty. In being the workmanship of God, in being created in His image and likeness, we are created in order to do divine good in this world.
What are the "good works" that we were created to walk in? Micah 6:8 says that what is good and what God desires of us is to, "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly."Justice. Mercy. Humility. This is the divine calling of our Sovereign King for us who were created in His image and it was the life that was lived by Jesus when He walked this earth. Jesus, therefore, is our example of how we live out the fullness of our created purpose; He is the example of what true freedom and true humanity looks like.
True freedom, then, is not the freedom to rid ourselves of all norms and conventions and to give in to personal or societal anarchy in the name of liberty and freedom. Rather, true freedom is the ability to put aside the compulsions of our base instincts, and desires which, are often self-serving, prideful, and arrogant, and replace those base instincts with actions that are motivated by Christ's love for others and a pursuit of justice, mercy, and humility.
In other words, true freedom is freedom from sin and eternal death, not freedom from oppression, for even in the midst oppression we can live by the divine standard of love, compassion, mercy, justice, and humility. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) Let us celebrate true Freedom this Independence Day.
(as published in St. Luke's weekly newsletter, 7/04/18)