Freedom is precious. It must be treasured and hallowed lest it become hollow and the entitlement of those with vague recollection. On this day--June 6th--in 1944 the invasion of Europe began, necessitated by the tyranny of Nazi ideology. It is estimated that 10,000 men laid down their lives on that June the 6th en route to securing freedom for us who remain. Between 4,000 and 9,000 died that day to prevent freedom from being realized.
Freedom is not easily obtained.
I have peered out upon the sea from the gun tubs on Pointe du Hoc. Strode the beaches of Normandy. I have retraced the steps of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Stood in the squares that spawned the revolts against Communism. I have listened to the silent voices at Bull Run, Pea Ridge, and Look Out Mountain. I have stared into the azure waters entombing the USS Arizona. I have climbed the tower of the North Church.
Freedom is not easy!
Freedom is not cheap.
I have visited the American cemetery at Omaha Beach. Walked through the tombstones at Arlington. Touched the names at the Vietnam Memorial. Shaken a hand maimed by a grenade. Stood where King stood and dared to dream. Stared into an eye blinded by shrapnel. Witnessed the handing of a folded flag to a widow and heard the rifles fire their final salute. Prayed with women whose husbands and sons died fighting tyranny.
Freedom is costly!
Freedom is easily compromised.
Sacrifice, pain, loss, and wounds dim with time. They are even romanticized. Witness that we think little of wearing a cross around our neck, commemorative of our Savior to be sure, but symbolic of the most horrific torture and execution ever devised.
Freedom must be memorialized in our heart!
The Galatian Believers compromised their freedom with legalism. Angrily Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).
Do you remember the final scene from the movie, Braveheart? How about the final scene in Christ’s crucifixion? Do the similarities strike you?
Before I go on, let me refresh your memory. Braveheart is the Hollywood rendition of William Wallace, the Scotsman who led the catalytic uprising for freedom against the tyrannical, Edward, King of England. In the final scene, the executioner is disemboweling Wallace but grants him a moment to collect his strength and utter a final statement. Wallace summons his comportment and screams, “Freeeeeedommm!”
It cost him his head.
The final scenes of Jesus Christ’s life are equally gruesome. The Passion of the Christ movie provided an unsettling—even though moderated—perspective on Jesus’ final moments. Like the liberator of Scotland, the liberator of mankind summoned his reserve of strength and composure to utter words of freedom: “It is finished!”
It cost him his life.
I am appreciative to Mel Gibson for producing The Passion of the Christ. I recognize it is simply a movie, but I have not taken Communion in the same way since I viewed the film. My experience of Easter was different this year from last. And I now read Paul’s statement to the Galatians with a different intensity.
What does it matter if I tolerate a little legalism with grace? What difference does it make if I accommodate a bit of self-effort within my testimony? Is it essential that I comprehensively believe life is “Christ, and Christ alone?”
What would it matter if we did not celebrate Independence Day this year? What difference would it make if we concluded there were enough memorials in D.C. and that another honoring veterans of World War II was not necessary? Would it matter if we simply went to the lake on Memorial Day? Must we have school children memorize the Gettysburg Address?
Of course it matters!
Freedom is fragile.
Our oppressors are constantly attempting to subject us to the yoke of bondage. If freedom is diminished, then those who died to procure it died in vain. If freedom is not treasured, then it is not worth fighting for, either as a nation or as a Believer. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free!”
Here’s to the sacrifice, and may we always live true to our freedom!