When you hear the word freedom what are some of your first thoughts?
I'm sitting on top of a mountain in Vail, Colorado and can't stop thinking about how truly blessed we are, and how much we take for granted our freedom. Today as I hiked up the mountain to spend some quiet time with God the words free and freedom just kept coming to mind. Perhaps it was because I felt so free as I hiked, free of worry, free of a "to do" list, free to just climb, and obviously the freedom we are celebrating this 4th of July.
After I had some quiet time and started thinking about this devotional, I thought it would be fun to ask random people what they thought of when they hear the word freedom. Children seemed to answer either "I don't know", or "I get to do what I want". Our generation and the generation above us mostly answered along the lines of "the opportunity to do things", and one father even answered his son's answer of "I don't know" with "Son you do know. You get to play outside, and do what you like to to". The people in our grandparents generation that answered seemed to have a very different idea of freedom. Their responses were more similar to this, "The men and women who have and still fight for and protect our freedom", and my favorite response that got me thinking "SACRIFICE".
To be honest, we have a lot of work to do. I was shocked that children had no idea why we celebrate the 4th of July, and even more shocked that the parents weren't taking the opportunity to explain to their children, but rather encourage them that they get to just do what they want. We should be in such gratitude for those who fought for our freedom and continue to protect that freedom. This freedom we have isn't free...there is sacrifice.
The difference in the older and younger generations is that the older generations have experience great sacrifice, some in ways we could never imagine. While our generations far too often have the sense of entitlement. As I sat there spending time reading my Bible and praying I started to think of what my first thoughts would be if someone asked me about the word freedom. My answer would have been: incredible gratitude for our military, for the generations before us that have sacrificed so much and worked so hard, and more than anything freedom I have found in Christ. We've all experienced the freedom that comes from living in the USA, the land of the free and the home of the brave, but have you truly come to understand and experience the freedom found in Christ??
The Declaration of Independence says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that the are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
As JP went through part of Philippians 4 last Tuesday he also mentioned this idea of the pursuit of happiness and that it actually is a chase of happiness and that would mean you are never happy in a way that satisfies. Contentment however would mean that you can be content whatever the circumstance may be. Paul talks about the secret of contentment and that it starts in the mind. Contentment will not ever come from what you have. It is a state of mind. Are you chasing happiness by just doing what you want? Or are you following Christ and finding freedom in Him in a way that no matter what comes your way you know that you have all you need in Christ, that God's got you, and are truly content?
"To the Jews who had believed him. Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be free?' Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'"- John 8:31-36
Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life so that our sins would be paid for once and for all. (Romans 6) We have been given this right by our Creator to walk in that freedom, not freedom to just do what we want in ways that do not glorify Him, but rather freedom from sin and freedom to follow Christ and worship!
Father I thank you for the men and women who have given their lives to fight for and protect our freedom. I pray that you would continue to protect those still serving and be with their families. I humbly thank you for the greatest sacrifice of all, your Son Jesus Christ and the freedom we have in Him. I pray that you would continue to bless this country, not in a way that we would ever think we don't need you, but in a way that would grow us and bring us closer to you. I am forever grateful that we live in place where we are free to worship, and pray that we would be a light in this world for You. I pray we would never lose sight of the sacrifices made for our freedom. In Your holy name I pray ~Amen.