Summary: Through frequently talked about, few people what freedom is--what they have been saved from and what they have been saved for.
John 8:31-38 “Really Free”
As American Christians, there are two times when we celebrate our freedom. There’s the Fourth of July when we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and there’s Reformation Sunday when we celebrate the nailing of 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg by Martin Luther. There are many similarities to these two events, and the freedom they celebrate. There are also significant differences that are highlighted in our gospel text today, which enable us to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ and broaden our experience of the abundant life.
IGNORANT ABOUT FREEDOM
The Jewish believers were offended when Jesus hinted that they may not be truly free. “We are Abraham’s descendants,” they said, “and we have never been slaves to anyone.” Their words revealed that they were either ignorant of the meaning of the word, “freedom,” or they were in denial of their own situation. The Jews had been enslaved by foreign powers for several hundred years, when the conversation recorded in the gospel text took place.
Many Americans appear to share this ignorance about freedom. They say that they are free, but they don’t know what freedom really is, or what it means to be free. Americans celebrate that there are no foreign rulers over us, and that we have the freedoms to worship as we please, speak our mind (or lack there of) and collect all the guns we want.
Beyond our “Bill of Rights,” many Americans believe that their freedom allows them to do their “own thing.” Americans understand that we are free, but many of us haven’t given much thought to what we are freed for.
As Christians we have a clearer understanding of freedom. We are set free so that we can be all that God wants us to be. Through the cross of Christ we are freed to live a new, abundant life in Christ.
As Americans, we realize that freedom is costly. There was a great deal of sacrifice including the cost many lives in order for us to obtain our freedom.
For Christians, our freedom cost the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—the death of God’s own son.
As Americans, we have to continue to fight for our freedom. There are many people and nations who would like to take away our freedom and rule over us.
The freedom that we have as Christians was obtained for us once and for all by the cross of Jesus Christ.
Very few Americans are truly free. We subjugate ourselves to a number of “lords.”
• We imprison ourselves financially.
• We allow our schedule and full calendar to rule our lives.
• We consider bigger and better to be the only goals of freedom.
• We chain ourselves to worry and concern over keeping the lifestyle that we have attained.
Paul exhorts Christians to not allow ourselves to be enslaved again. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
We live free by abiding in the truth of God’s love and forgiveness.
• When we sin, we ask for and receive forgiveness instead of being burdened by guilt and shame.
• When we encounter difficult times, we rejoice in God’s presence and power in our lives, and refuse to worry because we are in God’s hands.
• Instead of being enslaved by selfishness and self-centeredness, we see the needs of others and live in the freedom of serving them.
Sunday is a celebration of our freedom—every Sunday.
Perhaps one of the best expressions of our freedom and our life as Christians is stated in a popular patriotic song. In the last verse of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” we sing:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea.
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me.
As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.
While God is marching on.
Yes, let us live to make men free—free with the freedom that only Jesus the Christ can give. Amen