2003-07-05 - Freedom
Originally Published 1996-07-04
Romans 1:1 - Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ... Phil 1:1 - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Jesus Christ... James 1:1 - James, a bond-servant of God and of Jesus Christ... Titus 1:1 - Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ... 2 Peter 1:1 - Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ... Galatians 6:17 - From now on let no one cause trouble me, for I bear on my body, the brand marks of Jesus.
It did not dawn on me until early this morning, that I would have the honor or writing for the 4th of July. I was immediately impressed that the topic would be on Freedom. But what is freedom?
Several zillion tons of 'recreational explosives' will be detonated to celebrate the day 220 years ago, when the members of the Continental Congress signed the then-treasonous Declaration of Independence and, with the stroke of the quill, created the United States of America.
We see liberty and freedom as the collection of 'rights' and privileges. The foundational rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by our government are enumerated in The Bill of Rights -- document, by human standards, that stands toe-to-toe with the Magna Carta. But in our current day, the rights we have been collecting seem to either be eroding away, or being taken to such ludicrous extremes that one wonders if we will not simply collapse under our own weight.
How does God see freedom? "Come to Me, all you who are heavy-burdened, and I will give rest to your souls." A promise to mankind, never to reject anyone who comes to Him with a contrite heart. The promise of eternal life with Him, in a place that human words fall short of, even after John's eyewitness. And a promise to end war, poverty, hunger and to wipe away all tears. The cost -- our tattered, ruined lives. Jesus takes the filthy rags that we live in and gives us His shining eternal garment of life to wear. We are adopted into His family as His children.
So, why do Paul, Peter and the others call themselves bond-servants? A bond-servant is a slave who has earned his freedom and returned to his master willingly to serve him. Likewise, we have been freed from the terrible shackles of sin and death. Like the freed slave, who was grateful for the kind treatment of his master, Paul and his fellows express their gratitude by willingly becoming servants of the Master, and forwarding the cause of Christ. Paul, who suffered much for the cause, literally bore the marks of his service on his body.
So in giving up our lives and our rights, we gain the ultimate freedom. Freedom from sin and eternal punishment is granted to us. As we grow in this new life and are able to see a little more clearly the depravity within our own 'old man', the gift becomes, if possible, more precious. It is the ultimate inversion of human logic, and the greatest freedom that a human heart will ever know.
Master, We are grateful beyond words for the provision on our behalf that You have made, and freely give. In exchange, You ask for our devastated lives, so that You can give us Yours. We exchange our rights, for Your service, and become then as free as anyone can be free. The cost was Your blood, poured out for each soul -- and Your suffering for our sins -- suffering so much that we can never begin to fathom. You gave up Your rights to free us. I ask that You help us to be mindful of the freedom granted to us through Your grace and mercy, especially this 4th of July. Amen.
Grace & Peace,