So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36 (NIV)
Throughout the 4th of July week, Americans everywhere will celebrate freedom, as well they should. It’s one of the defining principles of their nation. Yet one might ask, “Of those celebrating freedom, how many are truly experiencing it?”
The world defines freedom as a life without any restraint: “I can do anything I want to do and say anything I want to say without anybody telling me what to do.” Everybody else may get burned by you, but you get to do it your own way. The world says you can have your freedom, but only by being totally selfish.
Yet, the Bible says the only way to true freedom is through Jesus.
Certainly, many men and women are living what has been called the “American dream”: They enjoy well-paying careers, wonderful homes, and interesting hobbies. But meanwhile, their “pursuit of happiness” has yet to be satisfied. The reason is that lots of people remain prisoners internally, despite their apparent success. They are bound to anxiety and depression, or a fear of losing what they’ve worked hard to possess. Where is the freedom?
Again, the Bible says the only way to true freedom is through Jesus.
I remember seeing a video some years ago. It showed a large humpbacked whale struggling to live. Some people who were boating saw the distressed whale and began videotaping. One of the brave men on board left the security of his boat and jumped into the water to see what was wrong. He swam near the whale; risking his life, and discovered a massive fishing net engulfing the whale’s body. He pulled and tugged and cut at the net and was able to free one of the whale’s dorsal fins, but it wasn’t enough, the whale was in a death grip and was drowning. For the next hour, he and his companions from aboard the boat hacked away at the giant cumbersome net, pulling and cutting, pulling and cutting, until finally the whale was free.
Then a remarkable thing happened. For the next hour, the whale swam alongside their boat, dancing, flipping, slapping his fins and jumping high out of the water in what appeared to be unbridled celebration. It was an amazing show of thanksgiving to his rescuers for setting him free!
The whale’s expression of freedom reminded me that Jesus left the security of heaven to rescue me, to free me from Satan’s death grip. And not only did Jesus risk His life, He gave it up so I could have eternal life! Yet, my reaction toward my Rescuer is not usually one of unbridled celebration and thanksgiving. I’d like it to be! Wouldn’t you? Yet, more often than not, we are easily entangled by our circumstances. We are prone to focus our attention on those negative situations, rather than on Jesus our Rescuer.
So how can we live with that kind of joy and not grow weary? Is it possible? The writer of Hebrews encourages us to stay focused. “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message)
As we celebrate the freedom we have in America, bought by the blood of so many, don’t forget to celebrate the true freedom we have, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. Can I see a raised fin for the Lord?
– Pastor Steve