Summary: We have freedom in Christ as God’s people. Use that freedom, not for license to live selfishly, but to worship God completely… and love the people in your life unselfishly. Be free… be free to love.
Freedom, Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Atop the hill in Washington, D.C. stands the Capitol Building of the United States of America. The cornerstone was laid in 1793, but the crowning touch, is the statue on top of the rotunda known as the “Freedom Lady” that was placed there in 1863. The Freedom Lady stands nearly 20 feet tall and stands proudly atop the dome. A crest of stars frames her face.
A shield of Stars and Stripes is in her left hand. The Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning out of many one, is inscribed on her base. Sculpted in Rome, “the Lady” was brought to America aboard a sailing ship. During the trip across the Atlantic Ocean, a fierce storm developed. The Captain ordered cargo thrown overboard to lighten the load.
The sailors wanted to throw the heavy statue overboard, but the captain refused, shouting over the wind, “No! Never! We’ll flounder before we throw ‘Freedom’ away.” And so, “Freedom” was saved, and the statue stands above the dome today, because one man stood for “Freedom.”
This morning I want to talk to you about both the freedom we enjoy in this land and the Christian Liberty we enjoy in Christ. We live in a land characterized by freedom.
Later this week we will celebrate Independence Day – the fourth of July. This is a day long celebrated as the day in which our nation was born. On July fourth, 1776 the American Colonial Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence.
We Have Freedom to Worship
Felicia Hemans, speaking of the Pilgrim Fathers wrote, “Ay, call it holy ground, the soil where first they trod! They have left unstained what there they found— Freedom to worship God.”
Just as our nation celebrates independence and freedom politically on the fourth of July, we also celebrate religious independence in a land which was born largely out of a desire to worship God freely and according to one’s own conscious and according to one’s own convictions.
Each one of us has received a legacy of freedom. As Americans, we enjoy probably more protection of individual rights and more freedom than do any other people on the face of the earth.
As believers, we celebrate the freedom that we have been given in Christ.
Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (ESV)
Freedom is not License
While the New Testament message is one of God’s overwhelming graces; there is a balance in the scripture in regard to personal responsibility and good conduct. God’s mercy should not be confused with a license to live any way that we please.
Freedom does bring with it responsibility, but sometimes it is difficult to find the balance between freedom and responsibility. While some Christians fall into the trap of overindulgence in the name of liberty, others fall into the snare of legalism – trying to please God.
True Christian liberty is about letting go of legalism and guilt and embracing the freedom that grace brings; the freedom to love people completely and the freedom to know God personally.
I heard a story of a young man who applied for a job as an usher in a theater and was asked by the owner, “In case of fire, what would you do?” “Oh, don’t be concerned about me,” was the reply. “I’d be able to escape immediately.” He did not even think of his responsibility toward others. Of course, he didn’t get the job.
Christian Liberty does not mean that we ought to do whatever pleases us most in the moment.
Romans 6:1-4 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (ESV)
My wife Christina and my one year old son Sebastian have been out of town for a week. Normally, our family pet – a nearly 100 pound Saint Bernard puppy – spends a lot of time in the kitchen with her bones and her blanket. Since Sebastian is out of town I don’t have to be concerned with her knocking him down and since Christina is out of town I have been enjoying Happy’s company around the house.
For the last week Happy has had basically full reign of the house. I’ve been letting her lay on the couch in my home office with me while I work during the day and I have been letting her lay on a little spot near the laundry room that she likes while she chews her bone.