As July 4th came to a close, I decided to go for a run through my neighborhood. The neighborhood we live in has a couple of lakes that all connect by a system of drains. Large trees, wide streets, light traffic, and streetlights make for safe and scenic evening runs. The rushing of water running alongside me, chirping crickets, splashes of bullfrogs hopping into the water, and the steadiness of my breath are sounds I have grown accustomed to on my runs.
On the fourth of July, I could hear the sounds of fireworks going off in the outskirts of the city. The popping noises and blasts were not a distraction; instead, they reminded me of the annual reunion our nation has with American pride and independence. The sounds of the night did not frighten me or cause me to wonder what was happening in my city. No, they were the sounds of celebration.
For some in other parts of the world though, the harsh non-celebratory sounds of blasts are heard. For those in the midst of a warring nation, or a nation in revolt, these popping sounds must evoke terror. There are also many in the United States who are enslaved in violent relationships, addictions, and hopeless situations. The more I ran and listened to the fireworks echoing throughout the sky, the more I was reminded of what freedom means for someone like myself, and maybe even you, and how it must evade many.
I’ve been confronted this past week with the word freedom from a variety of sources. Last week our church showed a video of a church member reciting a spoken word poem about freedom. He spoke of freedom in Christ. He reminded us that Jesus used his freedom to set us free. In the end, he asked, “How will you use your freedom?”
On July 4th, my dear friend’s wall post on Facebook caught my eye. In it she justified her reasons why she spends time on a weekly basis organizing, cooking, and serving food to homeless people in our community. She is part of a grassroots effort to serve those in our society who are often invisible to most; even to those of us who are active in our faith. I do not know why she felt the need to give her reasons, but I suspect something was said to her, or she was questioned about why she would help “people like that”.
My friend is serving others in a way that some of us who claim to follow Christ are not, or would not consider doing. How many of us cook food for the homeless? How many of us take our children along to help serve street people? How many of us offer a hug, smile, or kind words to lift up someone who has been rejected by society?
Sadly, how many of us walk on by and pretend these people are not out there?
Her post stuck to me the rest of the day. It humbled me. I thought about it on the evening run I spoke of earlier, and at work the following day. While sitting at my desk, I noticed the following Scripture on the calendar hanging in my office:
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. –Galatians 5:13
There it was again. The word free staring back at me. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I know that my freedom is not solely represented by fireworks or the fourth of July. There are many who are not physically free in this world, but have found freedom through the unfailing redemption of Christ. There are also many who boldly serve others because of their freedom in the Lord, even if it means possible persecution for themselves and their families.
We are a very blessed nation. American Christians are probably some of the most free believers in the world; and yet, what are we doing with our freedom? Do we use it to judge those who are different from us? Do we use it to buy things that please us? Do we think “someone else will take care of that” when it comes to the lost in our own communities?
How are we using our freedom?
I say, let freedom ring in the way we act towards one another. Let the sound of our freedom be one that is undeniable. There is someone in your community that needs for you to show him or her the greatest love and freedom you have ever found.
We are not called to be served by our Savior. He’s already done that. We are called and set free to serve one another.
Let freedom ring, my fellow Christians, let freedom ring.