On this Independence Day weekend I am grateful for the offer of freedom in this country and even more for the spiritual freedom God offers us. The interesting thing about freedom is that it is not exactly free.
Someone has to pay the price for it, whether in personal service or in paying for others to fight in our place. There is always sacrifice on some level. The external fight against tyranny takes place at the arenas of open debate, polling places and sometimes on the battlefields. The interior battle for freedom is complete on the cross and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is offered freely to us. His sacrifice paid our debt to God but we individually need to accept this gift and continue in the process of choosing to walk in freedom.
We do this by forgiving. We forgive others who have hurt us. We forgive ourselves once we realize how we have harmed others or ourselves. We forgive God. He never did anything wrong, but we sometimes blame the one who made us with love as His primary motivation, for things we imagine are His fault. Our perspective is so small we really can’t understand, and we feel the need for a scapegoat, afraid to take responsibility ourselves.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is releasing, letting go of offense. Yes, once we release, we often do forget. And that is ideal. But there are times when trust is not restored. The one we release does not change, so they are not safe people to be around. In some cases it is actually foolish to forget. We can leave ourselves open to future harm. Forgiveness does not depend on the offender. It is something only I can do in my heart and mind.
God’s authority to forgive is established by Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection. The process of freedom through forgiveness is simple to learn, but again, it is not really free. It does cost us. It costs us our life as we give our complete allegiance to God as we accept His payment on our behalf. We have been bought with a price, by the one who loved us so much He refused to spend eternity without us. He sent His son to die in our place.
Our creator has given us free will. That means we always have a choice to follow His ways or ours. This is crucial because without the ability to choose we are like robots. We are created in love and for love. preprogrammed to obey is not a demonstration of real love. When we choose to forgive we choose freedom and intimacy with the one who formed us and knows us completely.
Do I believe it? Do you? I do, but it has taken time and experiences to convince my naturally doubting mind and heart. The pains that are natural consequences resulting from my own wanderings away from the truth, compounded by the wanderings from the truth, or ignorance of it by others in my life have given me many opportunities to question the goodness of God.
Choosing forgiveness is not often easy. The brave in heart fight for personal freedom through forgiveness. For those who think they are not brave, God sends help to bring you along.
This weekend is set aside to celebrate the hard-fought independence of our nation. I challenge you to fight for personal freedom. Choose to forgive everyone God brings to mind when you ask, including yourself and God. No great introspection needed. Just a simple question. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our need to forgive. Then release the offender to let Abba deal with them.
If no one comes to mind then you are good for today.
Celebrate our FREEDOM!