What a mission! These words are inscribed on the bell that rang out at the first reading of our country’s Declaration of Independence. For over 200 years, Americans have celebrated this freedom. Truly, we are grateful to our founding fathers who had courage to declare their independence!
Today, we can celebrate the blessing of living in a free country. We realize how fortunate we are when we consider how many in the world are not free. They are enslaved, oppressed, persecuted, or worse.
Courage in the Face of Injustice
And yet, throughout world history, courageous men and women have set out to make freedom possible for those in need of rescue. People like Mother Theresa (Catholic nun who ministered to the poor in India and pleaded for the lives of the unborn). Or Bonhoeffer (a Lutheran pastor who vehemently opposed Hitler’s persecution of the Jews). Or William Lloyd Garrison (who called America’s enslavement of the blacks “a national sin” and paved the way for the abolition of slavery). And Martin Luther King (a Baptist minister who led the American Civil Rights Movement). These men and women had three things in common. Each one:
- Saw value in all human life, whether black or white, rich or poor, Jewish or gentile, native or refugee, born or preborn
- Loved God and was guided by the principles of the Bible and the example of Jesus
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit, had courage to stand up for what they believed in
Today we celebrate the glorious freedom of our country. And it is certainly worthy of celebration. However, there is another freedom that far surpasses what we celebrate every July 4th. It is the kind of freedom that supplies the courage needed to stand up for what’s right when the rest of the world stands against you. This kind of freedom can only come from within.
2,000 years ago, Jesus stood in a synagogue in Nazareth. He was handed the scroll of Isaiah the prophet and read the following words.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV)
He then said to all those who were listening, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
Jesus was the first to declare that true freedom – freedom from sin, and death, and hell – is possible. But that freedom came at a high price.
Soon thereafter, Jesus was crucified. Dying for the sin of the world, He opened up the gates of Heaven to all who would embrace Him as Lord and Savior. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
When Jesus departed this earth, He left behind two things to carry on His work and His message: His Spirit and His followers. If you are a follower of Christ, you have been given all you need to find the strength and courage, like the heroes we revere, to make a difference in the world.As Christians, we've been given all we need to make a difference in the world. Click To Tweet
If we are truly honest with ourselves, it is not our inadequacy that we fear the most, but rather that through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, we can make a difference in a world desperate for hope.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:31, 37)