Martina McBride's song, Independence Day, has been running through my head for days. The chorus says, "Let freedom ring/Let the white dove sing/ Let the whole world know/Today is a day of reckoning/Let the weak be strong/Let the right be wrong/Roll the stone away/Let the guilty pay/It’s Independence Day."
Then, yesterday, as I sat in church getting ready to hear about Acts 4 and the Apostles continuing to share the message of Jesus Christ and the salvation offered for anyone who chooses Him. That is our freedom...to choose to seek Him, to choose to follow Him, to choose to live as brothers and sisters, or to choose not to seek Him, follow Him or love as brothers and sisters. If we choose to follow Him and become His disciples, it is for us to share His message, but it is for Him to know when that seed we've planted will grow and when it can be harvested, or if it will ever take root at all. While many see choosing Jesus as a loss of freedom, it is not that at all. If you think that the legalistic, rule-following ways of the pre-crucifiction are the ways of the Christian church, you would be wrong. Even Paul says to Peter in Galatians that he must stop falling into the ways and manner of the Law and remember that Jesus died for all of us to unite Jews and Gentiles alike. It is not by our good works that any of us can earn our way into eternity, but it is by faith in Jesus Christ alone that we have been redeemed and receive eternal salvation.
I am a rule-follower. I like to understand how to do things and why we do things and what it is I need to do to make things happen. I like to read, ask questions of people, seek many sources and then try to understand what works for me. Sometimes, I become confined by the rules and forget about what does or doesn't work for me and that ends up going badly. This can be something as simple as trying to eat restrictively which leads to bingeing. Or, it can be that I am following something so strict or no longer do something myself (like smoke), that I start to impose my will and ways upon others. We all need to focus on what is true and what is made up.
The Bible includes Ten Commandments that show the "legal" structure of the Christian world. These are guidelines, but they are not things that prevent you from salvation. Accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior and the only Son of God, is all that will save any of us. Nowhere in the Bible does it say drinking is wrong, but it does say that being drunk will cause you to not be able to inherit the earth. There is nothing said about smoking being wrong, but it does say that our bodies are a temple. There is nothing that says that eating is wrong, but it does say that when we put these desires before our need for God, that is wrong; it does call out gluttony as problematic, though. Do you lose God's grace and mercy because you fall into the trappings of the world? No. Each day we have to choose. And, sometimes, we have to choose moment by moment. He doesn't expect our perfection. He desires us to seek Him so that in the things we cannot muster the strength to accomplish ourselves, He can bridge the gap. He can carry our load, He can make a way, He can be our strength, He can give us our desires that are within His will for us.
So, if you want to live freely in this life, choose to release yourself from the things that bind you, remove your strongholds, relieve your fears and replace them all with the unconditional love, peace and joy that comes with knowing a Father that gave His Son for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. You are loved. You are His Beloved!