Liberty in Christ
Happy Independence Day, everyone! Good food, fun, friends, family, and fireworks are always a fabulous way to celebrate the Fourth. It is a joy to think back on what the colonists accomplished for us 240 years ago: liberty from a tyrannical despot, relief from oppressive laws and regulations, freedom to set our own course. As an American, this is a day worth celebrating. But, as an American Christian, this is not our greatest Independence Day. The greatest Independence Day was not July 4, 1776, but rather the 15th of Nissan, around A.D. 33.
This, of course, is the night our freedom was won for us. This is when the gruesome battle was fought. This is when the War to End All Wars ended. If you were there on that date, it would hardly have seemed like anything that important had happened. There was no “shot heard ‘round the world” as at Lexington and Concord; there were no rousing speeches given, no rallying cries of “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” like at Bunker Hill; no fleet of French ships to save the day like at Yorktown. Rather, it was dark and silent that date outside the gates of Jerusalem. For those who loved, or even believed in, the man who was hanging lifeless from that cross, it certainly felt like a night of defeat, not victory. But events that would occur three days later would shade the seeming lost of Nissan 15: this was actually the greatest victory in the history of human history!
This time of year is a great opportunity for us to remember the liberty that is already ours in Christ. It’s a liberty far greater than the tyranny of King George—it’s a liberty from the Prince of the power of the air. It’s a liberty from our slavery to sin. It’s a liberty from our own selfish and fleshly desires. And just as our country has no interest in crawling back to England and saying, “Please take us back! We’re sorry we left! We’ll do whatever you want!” so, too, we should not crawl back to our sin that was defeated at the cross. We should not cry out to Satan that he would welcome us back when he has been put to open shame and triumphed over at Calvary. Rather, this is our victory cry: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery!” (Gal 5:1).
The greatest Independence Day transforms the way we live in this world. Whether or not we have political freedom we will always have our spiritual freedom. Nothing can take that from us. So we “live as people who are free” (1 Pet 2:16), and by our unshakeable joy we attract and welcome all—that is, those from any tribe, tongue, people, place—to share in this liberty.