Freedom (unabridged)

Do you hear that? The drumbeat? Between Easter and Independence Day my internal rhythm invariably turns toward the cost of freedom. The thumping drub in my heart comes from everywhere.

Do you remember the final scene from the movie, Braveheart? How about the final scene in Christ’s crucifixion? Do the similarities strike you?

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 life.

The final scenes of Jesus Christ’s life are equally gruesome. 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 as well.

Freedom is precious.

It must be treasured and hallowed lest it become hollow and the entitlement of those with vague recollection.

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 LookOutMountain. I have stared into the azure waters entombing the USS Arizona. I have climbed the tower of the NorthChurch.

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 and daughters 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. But not just in our histories. Freedom must be enthroned in our heart! While our intellects and emotions play a part in properly valuing freedom, neither are capable of elevating it sufficiently beyond the ravages of time, entitlement, and diminished worth. Only the heart can care adequately for freedom—because invariably a heart was yielded so another heart could escape tyranny.

The Galatian Believers compromised their heart’s 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).

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 encapsulated in the declaration of, “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?

Why should it matter if we simply went to the lake on Memorial Day? Must we have school children memorize the Gettysburg Address and digest each of Lincoln’s words? Why should it matter if politicians use freedom’s fields for political purpose?

What would be the harm in our minds drifting during the quarterly taking of Communion on the church calendar? Why would it matter if Easter was diminished only to the symbol of a new set of clothes or Independence Day to hotdogs and beer?

Do these treasures of freedom matter? Of course they matter!

But. But, freedom is fragile.

Oppressors are constantly attempting to subject us to the yoke of bondage. If freedom is diminished, then those who died to procure it are at risk of having died in vain. If freedom is not treasured, then it is not worth fighting to recognize or elevate—either as a nation or as a Believer.

Freedom. It is won, but it is not impervious to diminishment.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Here’s to the sacrifice. May you always live true to your freedom! And, may I also follow suit.