When we were 'celebrating' Independence Day, and learning the Star Spangled Banner, I couldn't help ponder on the words, '...the land of the free....'. What is it to be free?
As a Scot and a Brit, I am so aware of the encroachment of the State in our lives. This is most especially true because of how our leaders have bound us, as a nation, to the European Union. In general, Europeans have never valued personal freedom like the British have. They (again, I'm generalising) see the State as the answer to problems that arise, rather than, as is the case often, as the problem. And so we see the attacks made on our personal freedoms, year after year. The attacks will affect Christians in particular. And those of us who wish for total freedom in the education and upbringing of our children - we will be hit most hard.
And yet, at the moment, we have amazing freedoms. We are free to homeschool our children without registering our decision. We are able to homeschool our children all their lives with no interference from 'experts'. In this, we are truly blessed. In the USA - the land of the free - am I right in saying that most homeschooling parents do not have this liberty? Many states have compulsory registration at least. Most European governments not only insist on registration, but also have given themselves the right to decide whether a family will be allowed to homeschool or not. Recently, some families from Germany and Sweden have had to flee these countries and seek refuge in the USA because of their conscientious decision to homeschool their children.
And yet, we have to ask, 'Who is truly free?' How is it that there are Christians living in the most repressive of countries, who have greater freedom than others who live in the most 'free' of countries?
Because true freedom does not come from where we live. It does not even come from within ourselves. True liberty can only be ours if God declares us to be free. Why?
Because our greatest obligation is to the God who made us and who sustains us. We are obliged to serve Him - fully. To love Him - fully. To glorify Him - fully. In everything that we do, that we say, and that we think, we are obliged to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Of course, we have never done anything, never said anything, never thought anything that hasn't been tainted with sin. And so, our obligations stack up....and up...and up. In fact, they are infinite, because the God to whom we are obliged, is infinite.
How then can this obligation ever be met? Is there any hope of us meeting our Judge without an infinite baggage of debt that we are never able to meet?
Praise God that He so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son... This Son, who is God Himself, and so has infinite worth, paid the debt - totally, utterly, fully - for all who will rest completely in Him for their salvation. Not one particle of our own work must we cling on to in the hope that it will 'impress' God. 'Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags' before our holy, holy, holy God. And so any who are still hoping that God will reckon there was more 'good' than 'bad' in their lives must see this: there is no good in our lives. None. Not once. Ever. That is why the Gospel is the greatest news ever: Christ paid the price for the sin of His people. And if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
So, are you free? The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking seemed to think they were free, politically. This in itself is astonishing! They were so sure of their freedom, they seemed to have forgotten all about the Egyptians of old, or Babylonians. Or the Romans of their own day. How easy it is for us to convince ourselves of what is false.
We are born enslaved to sin. And enslaved by sin. There is nothing in us, by nature, that is free. Not only are we bound to sin, and by sin, but we are unable to release ourselves. Only God can 'un-bind' us. Only He can set us free. Those of us who have been set free can only wonder at how amazing God's grace is; at how great His mercy is; at how free His love is.
And so, those of us who know of God's mercy, who have been saved from our bondage, who have been made free in Christ, let us praise Him for the wonder of His salvation, and for the freedom which is truly ours.