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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence

Each year the 4th of July celebration stands as a reminder of our liberty, that came as a result of substantial sacrifice.  It is a time when we gather together with family and friends.  This occasion is often accompanied with; bbq’s, laughter, games and let's not forget the fireworks.  Although, our celebrating, sometimes overshadows the ultimate cost of our liberty.  Nothing in life is free, and that applies to our liberty as well.  All too often, this cost that others have paid goes without notice, rendering this freedom greatly undervalued.  True freedom comes at the cost of life.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.  It was the precious blood of Christ [Jesus], the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 1 Peter 1

Many believe that “freedom” gives them the right to do or say whatever they “feel” at the time.  We have all watched on the news, the actions of some taking things that don’t belong to them.  We have also witnessed those who try to impose their “free” will on others through intimidation, all while hiding their face behind a mask.  Is that really freedom?  Protests are nothing new.  Growing-up in the late 60’s-70’s, protests were popular on college campuses as well.  At that time, with an unpopular war raging on and friends being drafted into military service, I observed and listened to the cries of those around me.  I too, like countless others, was trying to figure out life during this time of upheaval.  It seemed as though a whole generation looked to drugs and sex to promote freedom, but in its wake all I saw was splintered lives.  No one was really reaping the benefits that were promised from this life of reckless abandon and self gratification.

They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption.  For you are a slave to whatever controls you.              2 Peter 2

The more we try to create our own freedom, the more bound we become.  Bob Dylan, a popular singer songwriter of the 60’s, wrote a song titled "Gotta Serve Somebody.” In the the chorus of the song he sings:  “Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you're gonna have to serve somebody.”  This servitude can take on many forms.  Even a quick surveillance of homeless encampments reveals empty eyes on tormented faces.  I have heard people say; “it’s their right to live the way they choose,” and yet their choice seems to be a cruel task-master.  At the same time, there is no acknowledgment that their choices also infringes on the rights and freedoms of others.  Likewise, I know people who have become a slave to fear.  This fear holding them captive while they serve in a prison of anxiety and despair.  I, too, have been caught in the trap of the “pursuit of Happiness,” only to cry out, yearning for an escape.  Could it be that the answer is not independence — but dependence on our Creator?  True freedom comes at the cost of life.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ[Jesus] came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ[Jesus] to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5

In the loud clamoring of riots and protests of the 60’s-70’s, there was another movement happening simultaneously.  It was a mighty move of love from God, our Creator.  So powerful was this movement, that I witnessed the lives of people being set free from the choices that had enslaved them.  I met and spoke with people who had lost their minds.  Once ravaged by the effects of destructive drugs, now standing before me restored anew.  Instead of dropping out of society, those transformed by the love of God, were selflessly sharing and giving what little they had to meet the needs of others.  This was not the result of religion [which is nothing more than man’s feeble attempt to reach up to God].  Rather, longing for relationship, it resulted from God reaching out to mankind that He so deeply loves. So supreme is His love, that He paid the highest cost on behalf of our liberty, to bring us, — to bring me to a true freedom.  So once again, I cried out;

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for [God]Your unfailing love is wonderful.  Take care of me, for Your mercy is so plentiful.   Psalm 69

And then it happen, this Love of God changed everything for me.  At first, in the midst of the chaos, it was hard for me to imagine that dependence could bring freedom but I finally understood that true freedom comes at the cost of life — my life for His.  Birthed out of a deep gratitude, and bathed in even more love, I now recognize the cost Jesus willingly paid to redeem me and all who are responsive to His call of love.

Yes you, "Gotta Serve Somebody” … “Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you're gonna have to serve somebody.”  I willingly serve Jesus.  Now, I have a new song to sing;

I am free

Praise the Lord, I'm free

No longer bound

No more chains holding me

Soul is resting

And it's just another blessing

Praise the Lord

Hallelujah, I'm free [* “Im Free” by Milton Brunson]

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5

You don’t have to wait for just one day out of the year.  Every day is the opportunity to celebrate “Independence Day.”  We are all flawed people living in a broken world, but Jesus overcame the world, setting right all that is wrong in our lives.  Jesus asks for our heart, mind, soul, and in exchange He will give us the cherished gifts of freedom and abundant life.  Is today the day you too will celebrate?  The price has been paid.  Jesus is waiting to celebrate with you … all you have to do is open the door.

“Look! I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3