Tomorrow is the 4th of July, which for those of us in the United States is Independence Day. It is a day we celebrate our freedom by spending time with family and friends eating good food and watching fireworks.
The freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution are something none of us should take for granted. The freedom of speech and religion, the freedom of our press to report the news, the freedom from self-incrimination, the right to a fair trial — these are all integral to our way of life. But there are people in many other countries who do not enjoy such freedoms. In some countries, believing in Christ can result in torture, imprisonment, or death, all without a trial. Speaking out against abuses by the government can cause someone in such countries to disappear without a trace. The Church of Christ is persecuted in many countries where religious freedom and freedom of speech do not exist.
But there is another kind of freedom that is available even to the persecuted church, and that is freedom in Christ.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:31-36.
Faith in Christ sets the soul of the believer free, regardless of where their physical body is. The apostle Paul was in chains because he proclaimed Christ, but his soul was free. Even today, there are many recorded stories of martyrs who have died because of their belief in Christ, but remained free from the fear of man. The book Jesus Freaks by dc Talk records the true stories of many such believers.
It would be awesome if all humans were free to believe as they choose and to worship God without threat of persecution. But praise be to God that knowing the truth about the love of Christ can set us free.