One of my top 10 movies of all time is “Braveheart,” a film in which Mel Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior who leads the Scots in their first war of independence against the King of England. During one epic scene, Wallace is on horseback riding across the battle lines encouraging his troops to fight valiantly. With blue war paint on his face, he yells at the top of his lungs, “They can take our lives… but they will never take our freedom.”
Freedom. It’s a word that you and I will be hearing over and over again as the Fourth of July quickly approaches. Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media will be buzzing with quotes, images and statements about everything that is right or wrong with America and what may or may not be happening to our personal freedoms. One thing is certain: We live in a land of great opportunity and freedom, and for that I’m grateful. And yet, it’s astonishing to think that the majority of the people who live in America are not actually free.
Instead, we live in a society that is enslaved by guilt, depression, addiction, anxiety, bitterness and a host of other issues that keep us from experiencing all that God desires. There is a great quote that addresses this issue of freedom and slavery. It simply says:
“Since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God, and the freedom never quits.” (Romans 6:15-17 from The Message.)
The author of that quote was a guy named Paul, and it’s from a letter he wrote to a group of people called the Romans. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for the Fourth of July and all that this holiday represents. My father and grandfather were both in the service and served our country well. However, I’m convinced that there is a deeper aspect of freedom that only comes when we surrender to the ways of God. Recently, our church launched a recovery ministry, and it’s been a joy to witness firsthand the transformation that can happen when a person finds true freedom in Christ by surrendering to God and leaving the past behind. That same transformation can happen to you. May you find true freedom this Fourth of July. My prayers are with you.