By Leonard Lauriault
Well, this year is half over, almost. Yes, we’ve completed six months, but January through June account for only 181 of the 365 days. Consequently, while the year is half over for most all practical purposes, there’s still a day or so to be completed before it’s really half over. By the time most of us get our newspaper in the mail and read it, though, the year will be half over and we’ll be concentrating more intensely on the first major event of the second half of the year – Independence Day. When was the last time you heard the real name for that great American holiday instead of July 4th?
It almost seems that people want to forget the cost of their freedom. It may sound oxymoronic to connect those two words – cost and free. Still, our freedom came at the great cost of human life and suffering and the price hasn’t gone down. Let’s never forget that men and women are separated from their families and some will die on foreign soil to prevent the invasions that infringe upon our freedom and bring oppression like those occurring on 9/11/01 (this date will certainly be long known for infamy).
Anyway, similarly to what the song says, our men and women in the armed forces are dying to keep men free. We will always have to pay the cost of our freedom – some will pay more than others. And even though we have an all-volunteer paid military, there is a cost to each citizen – that is, each of us has multiple responsibilities as citizens to maintain our freedoms and avoid external oppression (taking your shoes off at the airport is a small price to pay compared to what our servicepeople and their families endure).
So, what do the year being nearly half completed, family separations, and Independence Day have in common?
As Christians we have been set free to be free (Galatians 5: 1). We’re to make sure we don’t become enslaved again to the sin that oppresses, which includes all sin (John 8: 31-36; Romans 6:1-23; Hebrews 3: 12-14; I know, slavery was another war that’s not commemorated on the 4th of July – I used the date on purpose – but the Civil War also was about freedom just like the Revolutionary War, which mostly came after our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776).
One way to keep from becoming enslaved again to sin is to never forget that we’ve been forgiven (2 Peter 1: 5-9). This year is nearly half over; we can’t undo our failings of the first six months (anyone even remember their New Year’s Resolutions?). Don’t worry about that, make a new resolution each morning to live that day for God and each night ask forgiveness for falling short of that goal to get relief from sin’s oppression (Romans 3: 23; 7: 14-25; 1 John 1: 5-9). Getting forgiveness should be a matter that’s completed before the day is over, much less half the year.
Some of our military personnel will give their lives in service to our country while the rest of us get off scot-free, which means free of taxes. This is consistent with one of the purposes of our Declaration of Independence, although we really didn’t want to be tax-free because taxes are necessary to defend our freedoms (Romans 13: 1-7).
Sin also exacts payment. Because the wages of sin is death, someone had to pay the wages. Did you notice that wages is plural, but death is singular? There are two deaths associated with the wages of sin. We all die physically because Adam sinned, unless Jesus comes back first (Genesis 2: 15-17; 3: 17-19; 1 Corinthians 15: 22, 23; 1 Thessalonians 4: 14-18). The second death – eternal separation from God (much more traumatic than separation due to military service) – is still to come. But, Christians will not have to face that. We will be with the Lord forever because Jesus has already faced the separation for us, having paid the wages of both deaths for us on the cross (Matthew 27: 45-50). This is how we’ve been freed from sin by his blood (Revelation 1: 5).
The wages are paid. All we need to do is accept the payment on God’s terms by uniting ourselves with Jesus through baptism at which time God declares us in dependent of the wages of sin. It is our Independence Day. Whatever we face in life now, our next major event is Jesus’ return. Let’s look forward to that because then our war for independence from sin will be won.
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ