At the beginning of July each year we celebrate Independence Day and are reminded of the freedoms each of us enjoys in this country. Since the beginning of our scrappy country, our forefathers recognized the need to celebrate the sacrifices of the men and women that have made these freedoms.

In an intimate letter to his wife, second President John Adams wrote to his wife that, “[Independence Day] ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

It seems that we do a good job with that whether we grill out at home or spend the day at Freedom Fest including the wonderful fireworks show at the end of the day. John Adams also mentioned that it should be a day that is “commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” The price for, and celebration of, freedom is not new to our country. In his letter to the Galatians Paul reminded the church in Galatians 5:1 (CEB) down through time that as Christians,

Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again.

Paul goes on to tell the church how we might be able to enjoy that freedom every day in our relationships with each other by writing (13-14):

You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul understood the challenges of being in a worshipping community of Christ and gives the church this added warning in verses 15, 17:

But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other! A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires.

He continues to contrast, in dramatic fashion through the fifth chapter, between what the world and our culture teaches and living by the Spirit. If we are living by the Spirit, our lives are filled with fruit more delightful than what even Shelton or Darnell Farms can produce.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

think reflection

Reflect on Paul’s words. Do your friends see joy in you? Do others in our community see your faithfulness and kindness? Paul concludes with one final exhortation (vs 25):

“If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit. Let’s not become arrogant, make each other angry, or be jealous of each other.”

In Paul’s words we are reminded that true freedom is through Jesus Christ who paid the ultimate price so we can have peace, joy and eternal life. All we have to do is to follow Jesus and live by the Spirit. As we celebrate our freedom together, let us thank the Lord that we live in a country where we still have our freedom. May we be a people that are guided daily by the Spirit and live in the fullness of Jesus’ words,

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

(John 8:36 nrs)