For Americans, this weekend’s buzz words are independence, liberty, and freedom. Proud of our hard-won self-governance, we have much to celebrate, but how do these ideas square with our Christian faith? Typically, the Fourth of July celebrations revolve around a freedom from oppressive rule, a freedom from tyranny. As Christians, however, we understand freedom differently. Christian freedom, the freedom that can only be lived in Christ, is a freedom for life: a freedom to live at home in God, to belong to him.
You, however, live not by your natural inclinations, but by the Spirit, since the Spirit of God has made a home in you. Indeed, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. So then, my [sisters], we have no obligation to human nature to be dominated by it. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the habits originating in the body, you will have life (Rom 8:9, 12-13).
Freed from the bonds of our passions, we become able to live in God and he in us. God will make a home in us, and we will belong to him. Home. Belonging. In our heart of hearts, isn’t that what we all desire? Rather than restricting our freedom, by becoming a home for God, by belonging to him, we become who we were made to be. Instead of being doomed to die, we will finally live.
Of course, this freedom comes with a price. This freedom to live in God comes at the expense of our laziness, our lust, our gluttony, our selfishness, our anger, our pride. Freedom isn’t free, as they say.
Giving up our bad habits is hard, sometimes even physically painful, but if we work to loosen the bonds of sin and free ourselves to live in God, Jesus promises that he will give us rest. He is gentle and humble of heart. His yoke is easy and his burden light. Mat 11:29-30.
This weekend, as we remember our nation’s independence, let us also remember that our Lord offers us an even greater freedom, the freedom to make our home in him, to fully live. Like the liberty won by our forefathers, there will be a price, but when we have paid the price for freedom, we will be at home. We will belong to God and he to us, and we will finally begin to live.