As a July baby, I love this month. I love the heat, the swimming, the fireworks, and the Fourth of July. The Fourth of July is the perfect holiday: it’s not cold, you don’t have to buy any presents, you don’t have to dress up for it, people invite you over for BBQ, the lakes are gorgeous, and all your neighbors make sure that you get to experience their fireworks displays. The best part, though, is celebrating our freedom as a nation. Our freedom means that we are allowed to speak what is on our minds, assemble together, and have our own religion without the fear of imprisonment or death which is a grim reality for people in other nations. As Christians, God also created us for freedom. God instilled our very nature with freewill in order that we may come to know and worship Him out of love and not as mindless drones.
God wants us to embrace our freedom, and we most embrace this freedom through our relationship with Him. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1:
In the book of Exodus, the people of Israel were bound to the Egyptians as slaves, and when their numbers grew too great, Pharaoh decided that he would issue a decree to kill the sons born to the Israelites to help keep down their population. As the years past, God’s anger deepened against the people of Egypt and so God told Moses, an Israelite raised in Pharaoh’s household, that He would free the people of Israel. God said, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land… flowing with milk and honey.” God wanted to give His people freedom from their bondage, and not only that but He wanted to give them a better life. It’s one thing to be given freedom, but it’s another to receive freedom and a life of provision. God would give His people a land filled with good food and land where they could live their lives and prosper there.
So, eventually, after 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, God delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt. Yet, the new freedom the Israelites experienced was harder than they thought. To get from Egypt to the land of Canaan where God told them to go, the Israelites had to cross rivers and desert and many long miles with millions of people, this was not an easy trek. Because of the harshness of the journey, the people began to complain. In chapter 16 of Exodus, 13 chapters after God told Moses that He would free the Israelites, the people began to noisily complain about their freedom. Two months into their journey, the people told Moses that they wish that God would have killed them in Egypt rather than make them take such a taxing trip to a new land. At least in Egypt, they argued, they had meat and bread, but life is rough in the desert. The Israelites saw their freedom and found it lacking because their journey grew tiring. Ultimately, God provided His people with a miracle of bread and meat, but this would not end the Israelites complaints on their road to Canaan.
Like the Israelites we were bound in slavery, but God brought us into freedom when we accepted Christ. Also like the Israelites, we sometimes look back on our old bondage and long to pick it back up. It’s easy to see the fun side of sin. “If I wasn’t a Christian I could dress like that, or watch that movie without guilt, or have sex with whomever I choose, or finally tell my boss what I think about her.” It’s so easy to see the allure of sin, but that sin will never give us what we truly want. Sin will never bring peace or love or hope or life. Sin can only bring death and destruction. The gospels tell us that the enemy comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life. This life is our freedom from the death of sin. We never have to fear death because we know that our lives will carry on with Christ in heaven, yet we continue to struggle with wanting to take back our bondage. I know that I struggle with thoughts of if I wasn’t a Christians I could finally do this or that, but even if I did indulge myself in this sin, I wouldn’t feel satisfied or whole. Only God gives us true wholeness and satisfaction.
So, if you are like me, and ever struggle with wanting to give up your freedom for your old life of slavery, just remember that sin will never give you what you truly want, and that a moment of sinful fun will never give you the peace of God. Continue to embrace your freedom, and look ahead to what God has for you. Looking behind at your old life will only cause you to trip on the road before you. Every day we can celebrate our freedom, which can only be found in our Savior Christ Jesus.