These days, we visit our doctors to avoid illnesses. In other words, we see our doctors to stay healthy, not just to get healthy. But not so when I was a child. Usually at home, a pack of Bandaids, a dab of mercurochrome, a couple of aspirin, or a heating pad did the trick. Doctors were only to be seen when you were “really” sick -- when mom was left stymied by an unsuccessful home remedy.
Back in the day, Preventive medicine resembled, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Health & wellness visits were not part of our vocabulary. I can’t recall a single instance of either of my parents seeing our family doctor. My only memories of our doctor are of her setting a few broken bones for me, and over the years administering vaccinations from her single glass syringe -- reusing needles that were stored in a glass jar of antiseptic... And yes, we drank out of the garden hose and survived that too.
With it being the 4th, Freedom is on all of our minds today. A nation’s scale of freedom is relative, but I feel we are blessed as the freest of the free. How long will we enjoy our unique freedom and how far will America’s freedom reach? There’s no telling. Is there a freedom that isn’t bound by borders, that can’t be defended by military might, a freedom that truly liberates, and overshadows the American ideal of freedom? Yes, and it’s found only in Jesus.
My eyes get misty and I get choked up singing our National Anthem. Often, if I’m at an event where the Pledge is recited I let out an “amen” at the conclusion. I love our country. I also recognize the only residents who will enjoy ultimate freedom, are the ones Paul wrote of in Phil 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
So, why don’t we experience more of the freedom Jesus promised? In JN 8:36 Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Why do so many Christians find themselves entangled in infidelity or ensnared by habitual deception? Why do some practice manipulation or feed their own narcissism? Maybe, too many believers treat their relationship with Jesus the same way we treated medical professionals when I was a child. In other words, there’s no freedom from sin if I only go to Jesus when I finally feel the symptoms of sin.
Certainly we need to go to God when we stumble, especially if we’ve neglected our relationship with God for way too long. Sin & shame will crush our spirits to the point we suffer psychosomatic symptoms. Ps 31:10, “For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” My point isn’t to avoid God when we feel remorse because we’ve slacked off in our walk with Jesus; my point is if we long for freedom, then we need more of God in our lives consistently to experience His freedom fully.
Sin is the sickness of the soul that leads to death, and Jesus has the cure, but for a more fulfilling sense of freedom in Christ, we need to seek Him out daily. We need to be fed spiritually daily if we want to have the most freedom Jesus offers. We don’t water our gardens once in the spring and then expect a thriving harvest in the fall. Neither can we sip on the Living Water occasionally and expect to escape the wicked bondage of sin.
If we only crack open our Bibles Sundays at 10:00 a.m., or pray only in troubled times, spiritually we are as malnutritioned as ancient mariners suffering from scurvy. Freedom to live out what God created us for happens when we are near the Lord, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Cor 3:17) Prayer, Scripture, sharing communion with fellow believers, and a life of faith draws us closer to the sources of spiritual freedom. The good news is, Jesus wants to liberate us; He invites us to find rest in His presence, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)
So tonight, as fireworks light the night’s sky, while we shout “God bless America!” holding our hands over our hearts, filled with gratitude because brave young men and women in uniform are defending our country’s freedom with their lives, may we remember to celebrate our eternal freedom everyday of the year.