As I celebrate the Fourth of July, the often-said phrase “Freedom is not free” rings through my mind. As a child, I thought Independence Day meant a time for burgers and lollipops the size of my head to lick while watching fireworks. My family named the bursting lights as they lit the sky. Then we rushed away before the grand finale to beat the traffic.
Years later during a trip to Washington, DC, I realized the depth of what my freedom cost. I went to the Vietnam War Memorial on a cold rainy Veteran’s Day, witnessing the names of so many who died. Next, I saw the Korean War memorial where the anguish on the faces of the statues stood to remind the next generation of the horrors of war. The most sobering moment was walking through Arlington Cemetery with row after row of polished white marble headstones representing the lives of countless men and women who died for our country and the freedoms it represents.
We Americans have so many freedoms because our country was founded on Christian principles. The opening of the Declaration of Independence reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our country also holds the freedoms of religion, speech, press, and the right to assemble. I am grateful for everyone who fought and died over the course of our history, that we could keep those rights today.
Many other countries do not hold our democratic principles. They rule with autocratic leaders who seek to make a name for themselves during their time on earth. We have so much to thank God for with the rights and liberties we hold here in America. May we use our freedom wisely.
For believers in Christ in America, not only do we have Constitutional freedoms, we also have freedom from sin that came at a price. First Peter 1:18-19 says, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (NKJV).
When a person breaks the law and goes to jail, sometimes they can pay bond to get out of jail. Depending on the crime, bail is set at lower or higher amounts. For our sins against God, no amount of money could ever cover that debt. Instead, Jesus took on the punishment our sins deserved by dying in our place. His priceless blood spilled so that we could be redeemed and set free from the law of sin and death.
What a merciful God we serve. Romans 5:8 reminds us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NKJV). Jesus died for us when we were His hostile enemies. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that we can’t boast about saving ourselves. We are saved by grace through faith alone. Our works are worthless when it comes to paying retribution for our sins.
As we examine the cost of our spiritual freedom, may we live differently because of it. We are not to live for ourselves, but for the Lord. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV). The price Jesus paid prompts us to strive for God’s glory instead of our own.
This Independence Day, while we enjoying hamburgers and watching firecrackers, may we not forget the price of freedom. May we thank God for giving us so many freedoms as Americans and spiritual freedom paid in full by the blood of Jesus and live for the Lord.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over twenty years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people grow in Christ. Joanna enjoys coffee and reading, and currently lives in Florida.