On this Independence Day, when we celebrate freedom as a nation, I am pondering some key questions. How do we live in freedom? What truly makes us free? How does the Bible view freedom? In this passage from 2 Peter, we see the conflict of freedom from sin and new life in Christ, versus slavery to sin and rejecting the way of Jesus. This year we have experienced enormous political conflict and national infighting. It saddens me to see how fellow Christians can be so unkind to one another through these conflicts. It causes me to consider how our allegiance to Christ should be first and foremost in our lives and our allegiance to our nation should be second. It IS possible to be a Christian and also a Republican or Democrat, but you won’t be a very good Republican or Democrat. If our allegiance to Christ is first in our lives, then our political opinions and conversation will follow the way of Christ and not necessarily the current wave of a particular party. In the current crisis of how to bring new immigrants into our country, we have perpetrated terrible injustices and torn apart families. This cannot continue. At the recent General Assembly, the Stated Clerk of our denomination, Rev. J. Herbert Nelson II, made a statement speaking against tearing families apart at our borders. It can be found here: https://www.pcusa.org/news/2018/6/16/stated-clerk-issues-statement-separated-immigrant-/
Other resources from the denomination are available here:
Do we see people through the eyes of Christ? Then we should work for their well-being, regardless of how they have come to be our neighbor. Have we been freed from greed and selfishness in our relationship with Jesus? Then generosity will be our response to the needs around us. Do we experience freedom from addiction because of God’s work in our lives? Then we can serve as ambassadors to others caught in cycles of addiction and trapped in destructive habits. We can share our story of freedom to introduce them into a relationship with the One who breaks the chains that bind us. “For people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 2 Peter states. As we walk with Christ, we escape the corruption of the world. We are not overcome and entangled in worldly pursuits, but keep our eyes on heaven, because that is our true home.
As we enjoy fireworks and picnics this Independence Day, I encourage us to reflect on the blessings we have as a nation and remember that this world is not our true home and this nation is not our true citizenship. As Christians, our true home is in heaven. Our true citizenship is as a member of God’s family. To live in freedom, we must work for the freedom of those caught in bondage. We must care for the widow and the orphan and the alien among us. It is in Christ that we are truly free to live and love and serve God. The Bible admonishes us not to use our individual freedom to enslave others, but to share that gift of a personal relationship with Christ with them.
God of freedom, we are only truly free in our life with you. Thank you for the gift of freedom from sin and death. Thank you for the gift of freedoms in this country. May we be faithful in our walk with you as we make decisions as a nation. Give us opportunity to love and serve the hurting and the needy among us. May we be ambassadors of righteousness and work to protect families in our world and particularly those at our doorstep. Give us courage to love our neighbor as ourselves. And help us always to keep our eyes on heaven, our true home. Amen.