It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Paul writes those words to the early church and for us today. When I hear the word freedom, I associate it with the freedom won to govern ourselves nearly 240 years ago. Freedom means independence. As Americans, we treasure that freedom we have to govern ourselves. We know that freedom comes with boundaries. We cannot do whatever we want, but at least we are the ones making those boundaries and setting those laws. Every Sunday when we come to worship, we come because of our freedom to assemble; and our freedom to choose how and whom we will worship.
When Paul wrote about freedom, he cautioned the church not to return to a time of slavery. He was not referring to the actual practice of slavery, but rather to a system that enslaved people. Paul remembered with great fear the rule of law that bound people rather than setting them free. The commandments of God are given as wonderful boundaries to help people love God and neighbor has been made into hundreds of manmade rules which now only a few deeply legalists could attempt to follow. Instead of the Sabbath being a day for rest and worship, it became a day when you were constantly walking a very fine line. You breathed a sigh of relief when the sun set on Saturday, hoping you had not somehow offended God. Your life was lived in abject fear that somehow you had violated the laws of God and were now subject to his Wrath. This is a great way to keep people in line, “Fear”. Fear however is not Freedom!!
Freedom is the acceptance of the grace and mercy of God. Freedom is coming to believe and trust that Jesus Christ died for us, rose for us, and reigns for us. Freedom means we cannot ever keep the law and satisfy a holy God. Instead Jesus has done that for us.
Yes I am free!! I did not earn my freedom over 200 years ago. It is a gift given to me and I certainly did not earn my freedom 2000 years ago, that too is a gift for me!!! One gives me a citizenship in this country I love and the other gives me a citizenship in the Kingdom of God. I treasure both those freedoms, but I must say the Freedom in Christ is by far the most important, for it is eternal.