A Prayer for Independence Day

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. Galatians 5:1, 13-15 NLT

 

The prayer above is one that I like to repost each year as I struggle with what it means to be free and the lack of freedom that so many in our society experience.

What Does It Mean to Be Free?

What does it mean to be free? Today is Independence Day in the U.S. when Americans celebrate their “freedom”. To be honest it is a celebration I struggle with because I don’t believe God calls us to be independent but rather interdependent. I also realize that our cultural perspectives shape our views of freedom but what I do believe is that Independence Day is a great time to reflect on our freedoms, what we appreciate and how we can extend those freedoms to others.

To Americans the concept of freedom focuses on the freedom of individual choice, which can be as trivial as the right to choose whether I want my eggs sunny side up or over easy, or as serious as the right to bear arms.  What I struggle with is that there seems to be little recognition of the often dire consequences our individual choices can have for the society or for the world in which we live.

To Australians freedom revolves around the freedom of society and the recognition that our decisions all have consequences not just for us as individuals but for all of our society and our world.  Consequently most Australians are willing to give up the right to bear arms for the good of a safe society in which we don’t have to worry about mass gun violence and killings.  In the Australian political system voting is compulsory because of the belief that with the freedom of citizenship comes the responsibility of participation in the process that provides our freedom.

Unfortunately neither country does very well when it comes to granting freedom to all. We like to be exclusive – no freedom to immigrants, to those of other sexual orientation, those with disabilities, those of other races or religions. Whether we think of freedom as individual or societal we all like to limit who we give freedom to.

All of this leads me to my most important question about freedom “What does freedom look like in the kingdom of God?”  Obviously there is a element of individual freedom – all of us need to take on the individual responsibility to kneel at the foot of the Cross, repent and reach out for the salvation of Christ.  However our entry into the family of God faces us with serious consequences for how we act in society.

Our freedom as Christians means that we no longer focus on our own needs but rather “consider the needs of others as more important than our own” (Philippians 2)  It means that we live by the law of love – what James calls “the royal law” (James 2:8).  In the quote above, Paul sums this up very well “Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbour as yourself.”

What is Your Response?

What comes to mind when you think about freedom? Take out your journal and piece of paper and divide it into 2 columns. On one side write the words that come to mind when you think of freedom. In the other column write down the negative consequences of your personal freedoms for others, for the earth and even for your life. Listen to the video below and reflect on the true meaning of freedom.

Sit quietly for a few minutes reflecting on your lists and the video you have listened to. Allow God to speak to you. Are there changes you need to make to your original lists based on your reflections? Are there places in which God calls you to repent of your “independence”? Are there ways in which God may ask you to give up your personal freedoms for the common good?

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4 comments

Julia July 7, 2019 - 9:20 am

I loved the prayer for independence day. The narrative below it was very questionable. It was more of a political perspective, filled with statements and innuendo that is not based on reality. The U.S. does not restrict freedoms for “immigrants, to those of other sexual orientation, those with disabilities, those of other races or religions” as stated above. That is flat out FALSE. Someone has been brainwashed!

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Christine Sine July 8, 2019 - 8:40 am

Julia I am sorry that you feel this way. Don’t you think that banning gays from the military is restricting their freedom? And when I travel with my African American friends we need to allow twice as long to get through airport security because they are so likely to be pulled over to be searched. Don’t you think that is restricting their freedom? And women in hajibs are still likely to be spat at and even sometimes abuse as they walk down the street. Isn’t that restricting their freedom?

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Julia July 8, 2019 - 3:25 pm

Christine, I think the wording used above is unfortunate. As your example groups unrelated items together under one term, some untruth hidden with some truth …. just enough truth to make the untrue accepted. Let’s be clear about the difference between restrictions based on the law of a country and the not legally sanctioned practices of SOME of the people. Let’s take a look at each of your examples and be practical minded for a minute.

It costs a great deal to recruit, train, & deploy a large military. The military is not obliged to accept anyone who wants to join. They have restrictions based on practicality. For example, the military requires a certain level of physical fitness of it’s members. People with poor eyesight are not suitable as pilots. People who are physically handicapped don’t make the best soldiers. Many gay people choose a risky life style that is costly. In addition, there has been a very public case where the military was forced to pay for a man to be transformed to a woman. It doesn’t make sense to me that the military should have to pay for this sort of optional medical treatment. To add insult to injurty, it was learned that this unfortunate person committed acts of treason and got away with it. It makes practical sense to have some basic requirements and it is plain silly to call them out as something that ‘restricts freedom’ and say that we should regret as a nation.

I don’t know if the stats stated above regarding African Americans and airport security are based on an objective measurement or on perception. But, I do believe that the TSA has an enormous job to do to keep air travel safe and I think that they may be ‘profiling’ based upon actual experience. African Americans make up only 12 % of the population, yet statistics show that they are responsible for more than 12% of the crime in this country. That doesn’t mean that all should be treated as suspect, but when security resources are limited by practicality, I’m ok if the TSA uses profiling to help target areas of greatest risk.

The last example is really sad. We have a large Muslim population in MN and I’ve NEVER seen anyone spat on or verbally mistreated in public just because of their outward appearance. That behavior is despicable. But, again, it seems to be a distortion to call it a ‘restriction of freedom’. It’s sick behavior by some individuals, not a socially accepted practice by our nation.

Maybe my expectations are too high for ‘Godspace’, but I do expect Christian based media to be more precise, ruthlessly devoted to TRUTH, not conflating truth & lies, not endorsing political spin. Creating confusion, distorting truth, these are practices of the evil one. I found much darkness in that article. Let’s resist those temptations and allow the light of God shine forth in the truth that we write & speak.

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Christine Sine July 8, 2019 - 4:01 pm

Julia you are right I was probably too general in my comments. However it does rather shock me to hear you say that gays “choose a risky lifestyle.” Many heterosexuals choose a risky lifestyle too but we don’t deny all heterosexuals access because of that. And having seen the video footage of how innocent African Americans have been treated by law enrichment officers in the last few years makes me wonder if African Americans are really responsible for more than 12% of crime or if they are just more likely to be arrested for crimes. (I know that is just me speculating rather than anything definite to quote) They are certainly more likely to receive heavier sentences.And as for the treatment of Muslims. I think that it is worth noting that it was only in January of this year that a law was passed to allow women to wear the hajib in congress and there are still many public institutions that will not allow it, though I am pleased to see that this is changing.
I am sorry if you feel that I have distorted facts and truth. The problem these days is that what we see as truth is often very subjective because we all tend to see different sources as truthful.

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