Gilland: Counting the cost of true freedom

Our country wakes up this morning to a holiday in-progress. Independence Day—the 4th of July—has long been one of the most beloved holidays of the year. From parades, to cookouts, to fireworks, most children in America have at least some happy memories that surround this special spot on the calendar.

The secret sauce to this day is not only that it marks the declaration of independence from England more than two centuries ago, but also the freedom and liberty that we have cherished in our nation.

In my entire lifetime, I have benefited from and loved deeply the fruit that was borne from our founding father’s desire to have a country in which we can freely meet, freely worship our God, and freely live our lives according to the tenets of our Constitution—a document itself that was formed and impacted by the Bible, God’s holy word. America’s government was very special from the beginning, an “experiment” of freedom that has proven to be exceptional in so many areas.

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America’s freedom was never free…and our freedoms will never be maintained without the cost of vigilance and effort. Just ask gold star families who have lost loved ones in any of our wars, and they will tell you that our freedoms were guarded and preserved at a great price. We know that we are far from being a perfect country, but found in the very fiber of our nation is the long-held belief in the biblical principles that define true freedom.

Today, we are seeing the increasingly rising storm clouds of oppression that could very well undermine the way we have been privileged to live. For some time now, we have been told that the ideals that guided our country were not good, that America was tainted from the very beginning. It is going to take much prayer and courage to hold on to the freedoms that most of us cherish.

There is a story about Abraham Lincoln that helps explain freedom in its biblical perspective. Lincoln was in a southern city and approached a group who were conducting a slave sale. Disgusted by what he saw, he noticed that the auctioneer was getting ready to sell a young black woman.

Undaunted by other bidders, Lincoln stayed in the bidding and won the auction. He immediately went to the young lady, who didn’t expect to hear what he said. “You are free.” “Free?” she said. “What is that supposed to mean?” Lincoln told her, “You are free…completely free.”

Stunned, the young lady said, “Does that mean I can do whatever I want to do?” Lincoln answered yes. She went on and asked if she could say whatever she wanted to say, and once more, Lincoln answered yes.

Finally, she asked, “Can I go wherever I want to go?” “Yes,” Lincoln answered. ”You can go wherever you want to go.” With tears of gratefulness in her eyes, she said, “Well, I think I will go with you.”

I am aware that this story may be more folklore than actual history, but it speaks to a truth from which we can benefit today. First of all, much like with this young lady, our freedom was purchased for us. And secondly, once we see the true source of freedom, we don’t want to leave it.

I firmly believe that true freedom can’t be found or understood apart from God and His word. Peter gave us this important word:

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:16).

I pray that on this July 4th…may the true spirit of liberty and freedom be realized in our lives, that we will be reminded that true freedom comes from our Heavenly Father, and that in humility, we will draw near to Him, the source of our freedom.

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