Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Co 3:17
Fireworks, parades, and backyard barbecues. Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with these time-honored traditions. They celebrate all the blessings that come with the freedom that was won for them over 200 years ago. In quieter moments, Americans will also remember that freedom isn’t free. They were taught that many people died so they could be free—free to govern themselves and engage in ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ They realize, and are thankful, that many people continue to spend their lives protecting that freedom.
The Declaration of Independence is the cornerstone of the freedom that Americans enjoy, but it is Article One of the Bill of Rights that most gladdens the hearts of Christians. In that article, they are guaranteed the right to freedom of worship! That same freedom is enjoyed by the Christians in the countries served by WELS Europe. They, too, are thankful that our military presence here continues to help protect that freedom.
Freedom to choose our government, our way of life, and our place of worship is truly worth celebrating. Yet we know that there are much more important freedoms. Freedoms Christ won for us. We are free from the powers of sin, death, and the devil. And well we know that those freedoms came at a great cost, not of many lives, but of one. “…Jesus Christ…the firstborn from the dead…has freed us from our sins by his blood.” (Rev 1:5) Jesus gave us back the freedom we once had.
In the Garden of Eden our first parents were “free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Gen 2:16-17). Sadly, we know that freedom was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord. They were no longer free to live in complete holiness and happiness. They became slaves to sin. We inherited that same fate. But Christ has set us free from that slavery.
St Paul wrote to the Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) Jesus not only released us from the slavery to sin, but also removed the sting of death and the power of Satan over our lives.
And now there is the great paradox—our Savior freed us from the chains that bound us to sin and death in order that we might become slaves to our gracious Master. “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Ro 6:18) We know that slaves are purchased property. And we have been purchased, “not with gold or silver, but with HIS holy, precious blood” as Luther so aptly said in his explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed. Knowing this, we gladly and willingly serve our gracious Master. Luther continues with these words concerning our service to Jesus. “All this he did that I should be his own and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.”
July is the month that Americans celebrate their freedom. Let it also be the month that we Christians reflect on the freedoms that Christ won for us. Let us thankfully served the God who won freedom for us and continues to guide us in righteousness through his holy Word.
Before the Lord we bow,
The God who reigns above
And rules the world below
In boundless pow’r and love.
Our thanks we bring;
In joy and praise our hearts we raise
To heav’n’s high King.
The nation you have blessed
May well your love declare,
From foes and fears at rest,
Protected by your care.
For this fair land, for this bright day our thanks we pay—Gifts of your hand.
Christian Worship 618
These hymn verses were written by the same man who penned America’s National Anthem—Francis Scott Key.
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€180.00 and CHF140.00 were received in basket offerings. €2,631.07 were received as direct deposits.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7,8