A Freedom That Lasts
If you’ve ever been to Arlington National Cemetery, you’ve seen row after sobering row of marble headstones that mark the final resting place of nearly 400,000 men and women who lived for our nation’s freedom—and many who died for it. If we resolved to visit one grave each day, it would take more than a thousand years to pay our respects. And I imagine even a thousand more couldn’t express the debt we owe.
It’s right to reflect on these sacrifices. Above all, they secured for God’s people the freedom to worship without fear of punishment or persecution. Unlike some brothers and sisters around the world, we worship not in secret rooms, but in sanctuaries (some right on Main Street). We sing not in whispers, but with voices raised, choirs clapping, speakers blasting. Sunday mornings are safe, even comfortable.
This religious freedom is something to celebrate, because listen: it’s not guaranteed, nor is it required. God demands our worship with or without government support. Religious freedom, though won with blood, is temporary. History proves that for liberty to live, men must die—again and again and again. Religious freedom lasts maybe a lifetime, or a hundred years, or until the next war. Then it must be purchased again. Just look to Arlington, whose green hills have become a growing grid of graves.
True freedom is another story altogether:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
The cross did what ten thousand deaths could not do. That sweet exchange—our sin for Christ’s righteousness—granted us the gift to “live as people who are free” (1 Peter 2:16). This freedom, too, was won with blood. Only by one man, not millions. Not for a few generations, but forever.
Today, Memorial Day, thank God for those who paid the ultimate price for our religious freedom, remembering it’s never promised and always precious. Then direct your praise heavenward and reflect on the freedom we have in Christ—a freedom that lasts.