Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a servant to sin. The servant does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
It's a holiday weekend, chiefly Independence Day. Many folks will be talking about freedom, particularly in light of the restrictions during the pandemic, the racial justice protests, and of course, this being an election year. Freedom is a concept important to believers. However, it is understood differently by us as believers. Freedom is typically understood by one's relationship to rules and restrictions. So for a believer, we have both the rules of society, as understood through the legal system, as well as God's laws.
Freedom is typically defined as the power to act or speak as one wants without hindrance or restraint. And that's why we understand it differently as Christians. We know that we are either a servant to God or to our wants and desires. There are only those two options. We can either serve God and love our lives according to the rules and expectations of our loving creator or serve only our own wants and desires. To live our lives by the love and grace Christ shows us as an example looks like servitude to the world. And it is. But as Christians, we understand it is ultimate freedom from our own wants and desires that consume so many people. To serve the needs of our neighbors and the least of these frees us from greed, lust, laziness, consumerism, racism, bigotry, busyness, cruelty, selfishness, pettiness, divisiveness, ego, tyranny, ignorance, and apathy.
Why does this matter? This matters because as we approach the middle of one of the most difficult and disastrous years in memory, and among the worst in history, a year marked by restrictions in and fights for freedom, we must understand what freedom is and be a witness to the world of what true freedom is. To be free in Christ is not freedom from the rules and restrictions of government and medical professionals. It is the freedom to care for our neighbors and vulnerable people through social distancing practices. It's not freedom from protestors or police. It's the freedom to examine systems that allow and perpetuate unfair treatment of our brothers and sisters of color, and to love and pray for the officers who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. It's not freedom to choose leaders who will protect the interests of ourselves and people like us, but to consider the needs of the most vulnerable, the least of these, and to choose people who will represent those needs and lead us all to be our best selves.
As believers, we approach Independence Day with solemnity and joy. We must give thanks for the great freedoms we have as Americans, but also the understanding that true freedom in Christ holds us to be very responsible citizens who love our neighbors through our actions and words, living into the expectations and hopes of our loving creator rather than just enjoying the removal of tyrannical laws.