One of the most famous icons of America's independence is the Liberty Bell, which became a symbol of our country's annual celebrations, although it wasn't actually rung on July 4, 1776. The words of scripture on it are quoted from Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." And truly, our founding fathers were pursuing the ideal of liberty. But I have to tell you, they missed the point of what real liberty is. What is it?
Liberty from oppressive rule, or freedom to make one's own choices, has
been a human ideal for all our history. In its extreme form, we can mislabel something as wrong or oppressive, and rebel against it just because it is not our idea or doesn't feed our self-will. Then we miss out on what could be good for us, in our pursuit of 'freedom.' In the Bible, sin (often despised in modern society) is most simply that which hurts us or hurts others around us. As you may have seen in a TV show or movie, when someone tells a lie (yep, that's a sin) the effects snowball and multiple people get hurt, when telling the truth would have hurt less in the first place. That simple illustration shows why 'sin' is sin.
Sooner or later most of us would like to have the effects of our wrongdoing (our sin) wiped away and start over. Maybe we feel guilty - which we should - and want those feelings removed too. That's where real freedom comes in, and the feeling is like nothing else! In Luke 7:48 Jesus of Nazareth tells an infamous woman “Your sins are forgiven.” We don't even know what she had done, and Jesus doesn't run through the list first, just forgives her. She left there a free woman, finally at liberty from her guilt and ready to start life over. How do you think she felt then?
Jesus came to give all of us that freedom -- even for people who don't believe in him! He forgave that woman, with no pre-conditions, and he forgives you the same way. It's one of the many reasons he came. So if you're looking for freedom this 4th of July week, Jesus can give it to you. Just ask!