Lounging in her chair sipping on a Corona, it looks like paradise incarnate. Sun shining from above, grass between her toes below, what more could a citizen of this earthy realm desire? Land of the free and home of the brave, ease and convenience, comfort and peace, she has the potential to satisfy every desire that her eyes can see and her heart can feel.
Yet, her mind is tormented with the worries of tomorrow. Will there be enough money in the account at the end of the month? Will she be able to stand up for herself against that overpowering authority that won’t leave her alone? Should she leave that place that daily makes her suffer, should she find a new place that may turn out for the worse? Even though the gifts of life sustain and comfort her at every turn, she can’t help but wonder if they are really enough to get her through the years.
Not only tomorrow, but yesterday haunts her heart, as well. The wicked path she found herself on, the terrible moments she would never dare to talk about. The evil she continues to do, the shame she can’t shake from her past and present. How she gave her word and didn’t follow through. When she excused her selfish acts and called it loving her neighbor. Even though she claims forgiveness when these forgotten moments flood over, she can’t help but focus on a better way to live.
She is living the American dream, and she is not really free. Trapped by the worries of this world. Chained to the works of her hands. Oppressed by the love of money, wisdom, glory, and power. Smothered by achieving her desires. Senses blunted by strength. Eyes blinded by knowledge. She lives in the most prestigious nation on the earth, and fails to enjoy true freedom only Christ can deliver.
Freedom is a concept that our beautiful nation has used for a very specific purpose. A worldly standard and quality of living that is undeniably a gift of comfort and peace in our everyday life. A temporal system of representation that creates a collective voice of organized citizens. A culture that supports individuality as the greatest good, and claims this autonomy is true freedom. But, the freedom that we celebrate as an American has a very different definition than the freedom of a Christian, as spoken by the word of God.
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:2-6)
The freedom that Christ has given releases her from the plagues of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His freedom is more complete than just the ability to buy a house. His freedom is greater than assurance to have a trial by jury. His freedom reaches past her death and promises her eternal life. His freedom rescues her from the pit of depression and wipes away every stain of wrongdoing. His freedom smashes the annoying mouth of the devil who tricks her with present temptations of temporal freedom.
The freedom of Christ is delivered through a savior on a cross: suffering, weak, even foolish. This strange and complete freedom is the great and awesome work of God. But it looks nothing like the freedom we have grown up to love as an American, it might even look like the complete opposite. Where American freedom strives for wealth, prosperity, and a happy retirement, freedom of the cross will give it all away because there is no worry about tomorrow. Where American freedom shouts for individual rights and autonomous liberties, freedom of the cross binds neighbors together because our blessings are for each other. Where American freedom praises the strong and self-sufficient, freedom of the cross allows us to love the weak because we too are in need.
America is not necessarily free as defined by the Word of God, but the baptized are. Free from death, the Devil, and the slavery of sin. Make no mistake, there is freedom in America, but wholly on account of the death and resurrection of Christ alone.
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Roman 6:4-7)