Tomorrow is the Fourth of July; always an enjoyable time of the year! Sunshine, grilling out, swimming, popsicles, festivities, fireworks... everything summer is made of.
During the weeks between Memorial Day and Independence Day, a day of honoring those who fought for our freedom and a day of celebrating that freedom, God kept bringing to my mind three words. These words are both an encouragement and a challenge to me:
Take freedom seriously.
This freedom isn't referring to the freedom I have because of the country in which I live. Rather, God has been speaking to me about the freedom I have because of Christ.
This freedom also isn't talking about being able to do whatever I want, but rather, freedom to do what is right and good; freedom to do God's will.
When we choose to follow Jesus, to love and serve Him, to be in a relationship with Him, we are freed by Him from sin.
And we are freed from all the results of sin: shame, fear, worry...
Yet as those three words have been rolling through my mind, I've realized how often shame, fear and worry have dictated my decisions and actions.
Scenes come to mind of my shying away from interacting because I'm afraid of being rejected, of my doing good deeds more out of fear of disappointing others than out of love for Jesus, and of my thinking worrisome thoughts and letting them distract me from Jesus.
But now, I am feeling a tug to live more freely, to let God's love pour from me without the hindrance of fear or shame. I am being called to take the freedom I have in Christ seriously, to live in the reality of it, to not succumb to fear, selfishness or excuses.
God has given me these three words because I was made to live in freedom. And so were you.
God promises freedom to those who live in relationship with Him. But I often find myself living as if this promise isn't true, because I have insecurities and doubts. Because I make excuses and can be lazy. Because I don't want to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable.
But I am reminded in these verses that I have been set free. And I am reminded that with that freedom, there are responsibilities. I am called to stand firm against sin and I am called to live a righteous life that displays God's character.
When I choose to take freedom seriously, I can serve and love others freely, unhindered by selfishness. And it is in loving and serving others that I can help them find freedom in Christ.
So today, and everyday, is my Independence Day; the day I live free in Christ; the day I take both the promises and responsibilities of freedom seriously. Will today be your Independence Day?