On Liberty Island in New York City Harbor stands the colossal Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. It’s an imposing, inspiring sight. The statue itself is 151′ tall and from its base to the torch measures 305′.
The statue has become an icon of freedom, both for American citizens and for immigrants arriving on our shores through Ellis Island. Engraved on the tablet are these words written by poet Emma Lazarus in 1883.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Those who settled on our shores craved freedom. They desired to be free from tyranny. Free to worship. Free to pursue one’s dreams. Free to work. To earn. To own. And free to enjoy the fruit of one’s labors.
The spirit of American freedom is captured in part by Lee Greenwood’s stirring song, “I’m proud to be an American”
If tomorrow all the things were gone
I’d worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I’d thank my lucky stars
To be living here today
Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away
And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
However, Johann von Goethe’s words come to mind who wrote, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” Goethe’s pertinent observation perfectly captures the sad plight of many Americans today.
No, I’m not talking about governmental intrusion in our lives. Or strangling over-regulation of small businesses. Or racial or social inequality. Or even the current debate on immigration.
No, there is an enslavement more serious. A servitude more grievous. A captivity with greater consequences.
It is slavery to sin.
The wise man wrote “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast (Prov. 5:22).
The Psalmist put this way, “The wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands” (Ps 9:16)
Righteous Job also spoke of the plight of the wicked when he opined, “For he is cast into a net by his own feet, And he walks into a snare” (Job 18:8).
Ironically, in the “land of the free” many citizens are enslaved by addictions. Lusts. Greed. Power. Possessions. And pleasure. Others are ensnared by false religion. Fanciful ideologies. And faulty, flawed philosophies.
Jesus promised, “You shall know the Truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32
In Romans chapter 5 and 6 Paul argues that God has provided the “free gift” of His grace through Jesus Christ. Through his sacrificial death of the cross, we can “be set free from sin” and free to enjoy the privileges and prerogatives that come with a relationship with God.
To be spiritually free is to be liberated from nagging guilt. A pained conscience. A troubled mind. An aimless wandering. And emotional baggage.
And so, on the eve of the 241st birthday of America, you can thank God for your political, social, economic and personal freedom. But, if you’re a Christian, you can be grateful for an even greater freedom, the spiritual freedom in Jesus.
If you’re not a Christian, in the words of hymn writer Lewis Ellis Jones, “Would you be free from your burden of sin? “There’s power in the blood.” “There is wonder-working power in the blood of the lamb.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman