Astounding Freedom: A Reflection for Independence Day

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Today is Independence Day in the United States. On this day, commonly called The Fourth of July, we Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration, thus affirming the independence of the United States from Great Britain.

For over two hundred years, citizens of the U.S. have celebrated our independence on The Fourth of July. We fly the flag, put up red, white, and blue decorations, march in parades, and enjoy picnics. Throughout all of our celebrations, we are reminded of the gift of our freedom as a nation. Indeed, we are blessed in the United States with exceptional liberty, for which we ought to thank the Lord. Other countries around the world have similar national celebrations of freedom. July 1 is Canada Day. January 26 is Australia Day. September 16 is Grito de Dolores in Mexico.

Ephesians 3:12 celebrates another kind of freedom, a freedom that is even more amazing than the freedoms guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. This verse reads: “In [Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” The Greek word translated here as “freedom” refers specifically to “freedom of speech” (parresia, with a literal meaning of “all speech”). The word rendered as “approach” suggests one’s authorization to draw near to a king. The Greek original of Ephesians 3:12 says that we can be confident in our “freedom of speech” and “authorization to approach” God.

Let me put this plainly. In Christ, you have the freedom to draw near to God, to tell God anything you wish, without holding back. You can express to God not only your joys but also your sorrows, not only your assurance but also your doubt, not only your pleasure but also your anger. This is an amazing freedom.

Of course it’s a freedom that we Christians can easily take for granted, even as citizens of various countries can hold their political freedom too lightly. When we’re used to praying to God at any time, in any place, with any words, we can forget the stunning nature of our access to God. Think about it. The God who created the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the God of all wisdom and justice, this God invites you to speak your mind, to share with him your thoughts, your feelings, your fears, and your dreams. The more you reflect on this invitation, the more you’ll come to realize just how amazing it is.

So, if, like me, you’re an American, by all means take time today to thank God for the freedom we have in this country. But, whether you live in the U.S. or not, I encourage you to step back and consider the freedom Christ has given you to approach God with deep confidence. Let’s thank God together for this amazing freedom he has given us.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever marvel at the freedom God has given you to approach him? Do you take advantage of this freedom? Do you take it for granted?

PRAYER: Gracious God, first of all, I thank you today for the freedom you have given me as a citizen of the United States. We recognize the costliness of our political freedom in any country for many who have sacrificed their lives to defend it. Moreover, we recognize that, ultimately, this freedom is a gift from you, a gift that we should steward well. Help us, I pray, to make good use of our freedom, that is, to use it for good.

But, today I also thank you for an even more amazing freedom, the freedom you have given me to approach you in prayer, to tell you everything on my mind and heart, to come before you without fear, but in confidence. What a wonderful gift you have given me! May I never take it for granted. And may I take advantage of this freedom each day. Amen.

P.S. from Mark – I’m excited to let you know about a new video just published by The High Calling, the host of my Daily Reflections. It’s called “A Day with Greg Buell,” and is both deeply-moving and thought-provoking. I know you’ll be glad you watched this video. Plus, you can help us get out the word by letting others know about it (through email, Facebook, Twitter, etc). Thanks to my colleague, Dan Roloff, the executive producer of this video, and to his video team, Nathan Clarke and John Harrison, for their fine work. You can view “A Day with Greg Buell” at this link. You can see all of The High Calling’s videos at our YouTube channel.
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This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling, along with Laity Lodge, is part of Foundations for Laity Renewal.

  • Michelle Raitt

    Gratitude is a wonderful things and brings us close to God. I love Ann Voskamp’s idea about EUCHARISTEO– the great thanksgiving in Christ! We must be so grateful of what God has done for us in so many ways. Our freedom to pray in the US is just one of the ways we can be grateful!