On July Fourth we will be celebrating 242 years of independence from England. Many of us will be doing so with a picnic with family and friends. We might even watch some fireworks afterwards. But as we do, I’d like us to think about exactly what it is we are celebrating.
Robert J. McCracken, Scottish pastor of Riverside Church (1941-1967) in NYC, once wrote, “Men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure freedom for their souls.” And so they did.
But does it take a two or three month voyage across the sea to find freedom for our souls? I think not, but perhaps it does take a new beginning. Many people today are seeking freedom in this country and a new beginning. So how do we all find freedom?
In the Gospel of John he records these words of Jesus, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:31,32). And what is the truth?
The Continental Congress of 1776 said in its Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” [emphasis mine]
Jesus told Pilate, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37).
“Now the Lord is the Spirit,” wrote the Apostle Paul. “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Corinthians 3:17).
So there you have it! Freedom is found not in a place, but in a Person and that Person is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. On this Fourth of July may you find true freedom for your soul.
Rich Pollock is a retired Presbyterian minister. He lives in Topsail Beach full-time with his wife Julia. Both are active affiliates of Emma Anderson Memorial Chapel. Rich happily fills in at the pulpit when a guest minister is unavailable for Sunday services.