Independence Day
John 8:31-36
July 4, 2021

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I prepare my sermons, I find that my mind bounces all over the place.  Ideas come and go, some of them are quite silly.  As I contemplated which direction to take my sermon, it was clear that it should be based somewhat on the Fourth of July.  As ideas flowed, I started thinking “You have freedom!”  Which led me to think about a sports cheer and what ended up stuck in my head was “We have freedom, Yes we do!  We have freedom how ‘bout you?”  It’s kind of silly, I know, but is it wrong to cheer about our freedom?  That’s what July 4th is all about, right?  Well, it is supposed to be.  For many, it’s become just a day to BBQ, picnic, and play cornhole.  Even though the true meaning of today has slipped from the consciousness of many, the significance of today hasn’t been lost because on July 4 you were given your freedom.

To know your freedoms as a citizen of the good, old USA, you simply need to check out the Constitution.  You have the freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, the freedom to vote regardless of your race or religion.  There are a lot of nations whose citizens don’t have freedom.  Try attending church in Saudi Arabia.  Or voting for someone else other than the Ayatollah in Iran.  Or speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party.  America is the Land of Free, and we praise God for these freedoms and for the nation which gives us these rights.

We also know that our freedoms are not absolute.  You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, unless you’re punished for breaking the law.  You’re free to protest but you don’t have the right to riot, loot, and vandalize. You’re free to drive a car, but not at any speed you want, something Jennifer frequently points out to me.

As great as it is, freedom is also fragile, and you can lose it if you don’t speak up.  We speak out against Critical Race Theory in our society and schools because it advocates for racism and segregation.  It tells some people that they’re not as good as others, that they’re bad simply because of their race.  Worse yet, Critical Race Theory denies that we’re all created in God’s image, that we’re all one people

We speak out against the freedom to abort an unborn child because, among other reasons, that baby also has freedoms; like the freedom to live.  More importantly, that baby was knit together in the womb by God, just as God knit His Son together in the womb of Mary.  All life is sacred.

We speak out against the nonsense of changing genders, so the women of this nation won’t be endangered by perverts entering their bathrooms and locker rooms. So women and girls can succeed in sports.  We treat those truly struggling with gender dysphoria with love, but we speak the truth that God creates men and women as they are and you cannot change what God has made you to be.

Our freedoms as Americans are written down, but they’re not guaranteed.  You know why?  You may not like this answer: America isn’t God’s chosen nation and there’s not a single elected official who will be our nation’s Savior.  Saint Paul says that good government is a gift from God and a blessing to His people.  He also says that the government wields the sword so that Christians can work for God’s kingdom.  I’m as patriotic as they come and I love this nation.  We sing God Bless America, and I pray that He does.  But why would He? Our nation has failed to appreciate the myriad of blessings that God has bestowed on us and our nation has rejected the natural law that God has written on our hearts, the Law that tells us what is good and what is evil.

I know that so far, my sermon has sounded like a civics lecture, that wasn’t my intention.  I guess this is an example of my mind bouncing around.  Seriously though, many of the things that are beginning to challenge our freedoms are challenging our ability to live Christian lives.  If Christians lose the freedom of speech, we won’t be able to speak the truth about sin because it will be seen as hate speech.  We won’t be able to share the Gospel.  If Christians lose the right to assembly, we’ll lose our churches as we know them.  If we lose the freedom to raise our children the way we see fit, they’ll be taken away.  It’s important we understand the significance of our freedom both for our nation and us as citizens.

What’s even more important to understand is that even if every freedom we have is taken away, even if we become like Iran or Saudi Arabia or China, we’re still free.  We’re free because Christ has set us free.  Jesus says in John 8, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  You are a disciple.  You believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, so you are free!

One of your Christ given freedoms is that you’re free from the demands of the Law.  This doesn’t mean that the Law doesn’t apply, it certainly does.  The Law is still what God expects of us, and God expects you to not steal or take His name in vain.  He still expects you to worship and not lie.  But when you break the law, you are free from condemnation, and you’re not damned just because you fail to keep it.  Paul says, For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.”  You have a weak flesh, you sin.   By keeping the Law for you, Christ has set you free from Satan’s accusations.  It doesn’t matter what Satan throws at you or says about you, you are free.  You’re free from the guilt of your sin.  You’re free from the punishment you deserve for your sins.  You’re free to strive to live according to God’s Law and in ways pleasing to Him.   You’re free indeed!

We can’t forget that freedom is never free.  We fought a war to be free from England’s control.  We fought a war to free the slaves.  We fought a war to free Europe from the Nazi death machine.  Martin Luther fought verbally against the Roman Catholic Church, and after his death, Lutherans fought a war so they would free to worship Christ in the full truth.  So also, the freedom you’ve been given by Christ was obtained by warfare.  The Son of God became human and took the battle to Satan.  He went to war for you, even to the point where it appeared that He had lost when He died nailed like a common slave, but even His death sets you free.  Free from Sin, free from Satan’s lies, free from curse you should bear because of your sin, free of everything, all because Christ died for you.  He was captured, to set you free.  He broke the seal on the stone of His tomb, to set you free for an eternal life.

The freedom that Christ has given you enables you to freely serve the Lord.  Through Jesus, you’re free to approach the Lord with your fears, worries, and concerns.  You are free to pray, knowing that He hears you.  You are free to read His Word and hear His gracious promises of forgiveness and life.  You are free to serve Him by serving your neighbor.  Use the freedom of speech to tell others about His gracious work for them.  Use the freedom of assembly to assemble here in His house to receive His gifts.  He has set you free and that means that matter what happens in America, you are free indeed.

It is fitting that you’re here today as we thank the Lord for 245 years of freedom.  And while Americans aren’t the chosen people of God, we still pray that God would bless our nation, that He showers blessings upon it, and that all Americans would praise Him for the freedoms He has given our nation.  We rightly call today Independence Day, but it’s only America’s Independence Day.  The world’s Independence Day, your eternal independence celebration was Maundy Thursday through Easter morning when Christ set you free from the chains of sin, the devil, the law, and death itself.  So through faith we can cheer: I have freedom yes I do, I have freedom.  How ‘bout you?  You do! Through faith in Christ, you are free indeed!

Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen