Devotion for the First Sunday in July
 
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
            On Thursday we celebrate again the birthday of our country. On July 4, 1776, 243 years ago, the colonists declared their independence from Britain and sought to found themselves on principles of freedom, so that all may know “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
            We will celebrate our freedom with fireworks and band music. We will marvel in this “grand experiment” with speeches, flags, and barbecues. We will hear calls to protect our freedoms and value our freedoms. One political party will decry our dwindling freedom in one area, and another will decry our dwindling freedom in another.
            I wonder, however, whether we have taken the time to reflect on what freedom really means. We often think that freedom means doing whatever you want, but that view is short-sighted and immature. Even in American politics, we know that freedom of speech or religion or assembly only extends to the point that others are not harmed.
            Paul challenges us to think of freedom differently as well. In Christ we are set free from any past life or struggle. We call this freedom “forgiveness.” Yet, once again, just like in the American political system, this freedom does not mean that we can do whatever we want. Paul says that our freedom gives us a responsibility. Freedom does not turn into our selves. It turns us out toward others. We are freed to love, freed to serve.
            Martin Luther put it this way: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly free servant of all, subject to all.”
            Who have you been freed to love? Who have you been called to serve? How has God’s freedom and forgiveness empowered you to be God’s presence and to live God’s kingdom?
            May the celebration of our country’s freedom inspire you to live in God’s freedom – subject to none, subject to all.
God, thank you that I live in a country founded on the principles of freedom. Remind me that you have freed me to be your presence and a witness to your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
In Christ,
Pastor David Armstrong-Reiner