Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
II Corinthians 3:17
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. Galatians 5:13
Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. I Peter 2:16
Today’s reflection will be about “freedom” in honor of Independence Day.
There is a saying that states “freedom isn’t free.” As we celebrate Independence Day today, I think back to the Founding Fathers of our country who risked their very lives to declare independence. It is interesting that most of these men were God-fearing and devout Christians, who wrote of rights like “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as “inalienable rights,” given to us by our Creator. Their concept of freedom included the idea of a representative government, where people would have a voice. A long Revolutionary War followed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. In many other periods of time, freedom has come under attack, and at all times, brave people have stood up in defense of freedom. This year as we celebrate America’s birthday, we must pray for freedom – for those who defend it, our armed forces; to those who do not have it, people who live in oppressed countries, and even people in this country who are not free from worry about where their next meal is coming from; to those who enjoy it; to those who would attack freedom, both in this country and throughout the world; and especially for those who take freedom for granted. Our freedoms are under some kind of assault on a daily basis. We must be vigilant in defending freedom, the ability to express ideas that may be different from ours, because in today’s work of great sensitivity, this is the very freedom that is under attack in our country. And those of us who enjoy freedom must not become enslaved to things that are corrupt-we must not become slaves to materialism, power or any of the passions. But rather we must ALL work to free ourselves from oppression from those who do not know God.
God made us to be free. He made us not to carry the burden of sin. But He also gave us free will. We freely choose to sin. And we also freely choose repentance and discipline. As we celebrate Independence Day, say a prayer to the Lord to free you from sin through repentance and discipline. And to give you the strength to fight the good fight, to preserve freedom for all, and to grant you the ultimate freedom, Salvation in Christ Jesus.
The Founding Fathers recognized that it was the Creator who endowed us with our rights to life, liberty the pursuit of happiness. And that not only the law of man would safeguard these freedoms but the law of the Lord would make us “one nation, under God.” Every nation that has eliminated God has eventually failed. We need look no further than 20th century Russia. When we are no longer “under God,” we may no longer be a nation, for God is the ultimate freedom, and freedom is a gift from God. If we reject God, we reject freedom and hence we are no longer free. So, as we celebrate Independence Day, we must continue to pray that indeed we can be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” as not only our Founding Fathers intended but as God intends for us.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of freedom. Thank You for the men and women who have sacrificed their very lives so that I may enjoy this gift of freedom. Safeguard our country from all those who wish to attack freedom. Help me “free” other people from the misfortunes that enslave them. And help me to fight the good fight, that I may find the ultimate freedom, salvation for eternal life, and joy in this life. Amen.
God bless America! Land that I love, stand beside Her and guide Her through the night with the Light from Above!
God bless America!
Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website!
Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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