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Independence in Jesus Christ

When July 4 comes around each year it seems to serve as more of a reminder that summer is officially here than a call to remembrance and thanks for the freedoms we have. The cookouts, the fireworks, the music, the parades — whatever it is that comes along with its celebration, Independence Day is often the party of the summer.

Maybe somewhere in there an attitude of thankfulness exists. In this country, we have the freedom to worship whomever (and sometimes whatever) we choose. We have the freedom to marry who want, to live where we want and to work where we want. We have the freedom to express our opinions and to voice our concerns. We can protest, we can praise, we shout out and we can stand by silently. We can vote for whomever we please (even though we usually complain that “we don’t like any of them.” At least we can say that!

Independence is such a powerful word. To a toddler, independence means “I can do it my own self!” To the retiree it may mean, “I ain’t punching anybody’s time clock anymore!” To a prisoner it may mean they have been set free and given the opportunity to start anew. To those who watch the last of their children leave home, it may mean a little less stress and a little more free time. Webster’s Dictionary defines independence as not subject to control by others; not requiring or relying on something else; not requiring or relying on others.

It’s interesting to note that the definition most associated with independence in the bible is simply “set free.” One small statement found in Galatians 5:1 brings with it a powerful realization: “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.”

Christ’s gift of salvation and eternal life made through his sacrificial death and blessed resurrection breaks the chains of sin and sets us free. We are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). Think about that. Whatever may be holding you back. Whatever the habit, the addiction, the emotion, the painful memory, the regret or the shameful act we may carry with us has no power over us; cannot bind us, if we have accepted Christ. He has set us free. We have authorities on this earth to answer to, but in terms of our eternal freedom our only master is the one who makes us free. Through Christ we are set free from death, free from guilt and free from burden.

In as much as we are physically free thanks to those 13 colonies that claimed their independence from England on July 4, 1776 and those who followed after ensuring our rights and liberties, we are free from eternal death thanks to the one who bought our independence with his life.

As your thoughts turn this week towards Independence Day, take the time to think as much about the spiritual freedom and liberty offered through Christ.