The Price of
As we approach the end of the
Easter season, and as we come upon another Memorial Day
observance, we find our selves on the heels of "shock and
awe." We have the shock and awe of the war with Iraq, and we
have the shock and awe of the crucifixion and resurrection of
Jesus. Both in there own rights were battles waged for
In these battles and others
like them, many have given their lives for the cause of
freedom, whether it's in service, or through the ultimate
sacrifice of ones physical life. And it's through the
revelation of these battles we realize that our freedom,
whether it be civil or spiritual, does come at a price.
Last week I was talking to an
army Chaplin and he was telling me about a Bible Study he was
holding for some of the troops in his company over in Germany
just a couple of days before the war with Iraq started. The
men he was meeting with, and they were all men in this
particular combat unit, were all members of the Special
Forces, many of whom are experts in every kind of combat you
They are experts with all
sorts of weapons, proficient paratroopers, and experts in
covert operations, you name it these guys can do it. These
guys were made of steel, very tough, a man's man willing to do
whatever it takes to carry out the orders they are given.
The Chaplin was telling me
that the night of the Bible Study these hardened guys were
sharing God's peace with one another, and some were weeping
and praying for peace. Not because they were afraid of losing
their lives, but because they were Christian knowing that
God's way is the way of peace.
So here you have a group of
highly trained men, willing to carry out orders to kill if
necessary, and yet at the same time this same group of men are
devoted Christians wanting to do the will of God. How does one
deal with this conflict, this tension between God and country?
In my mind this is the price
we pay for freedom, this tension of wanting to be good loyal
citizens of this country doing what we believe is right, while
at the same time wanting to do the will of God. And lets be
honest, the desire of our country and the desire of God are
not always the same.
Now these men I described
live with this tension in a very dramatic way. But each of us
also live with this tension, and how we deal with it is the
price we pay for the freedoms we enjoy as a country and as
followers of Jesus Christ.
Freedom has been a dream
sought after, fought for, and died for since the beginning of
Men and women for years have
fought for freedom from inequality, oppression, abuse,
elitism, and racism. Many have sought freedom from hunger,
ignorance, and depression.
These battles rage on,
perhaps in different places and different ways, but
nevertheless the battles rage on. And as Christians we are
called to fight these battles in a Christ-like way, in a way
that fulfills God's purposes.
This desire for freedom is
what fueled the fire for the making of this country many years
ago. "I know not what course others may take, but as for
me…give me liberty or give me death!" Many of you I'm sure
recognize this quote as the proclamation made by one of our
country's great patriots, Patrick Henry.
His proclamation was borne
from his fiery determination and uncompromising Christian and
moral convictions, which transformed our nations founders
dream of an independent nation, under God, into reality.
This brave man and others
like him blazed the trail to the civil freedoms we enjoy
today. And ever since then, men and women have served this
country bravely defending freedom. Many more have shed blood
and given their lives so that we can enjoy the civil freedoms
we experience today.
Likewise many have given
their lives so that the Word of God might live on, so the
stories of Jesus might be taught, so that those who call
themselves followers of Jesus might live as true disciples
without fear of persecution, so that all people who hear of
Jesus might experience eternal freedom.
But freedom does come at a
price. The obvious price is that of ones physical life, given
so that others might live, a gift we shouldn't take lightly
but give thanks for.
But the truth is many of us
will not be asked to give our life for the cause of freedom,
at least from the perspective of physical death. Yet we are
called to sacrifice our way of life for freedom.
For one to be truly free
means we are not being held back, or lacking in our ability to
follow Jesus. Being free means we can see our way clear of
obstacles like idolatry, guilt, unbelief, and
self-centeredness, which work to move us away from Christ. And
when you think about it, there are many challenges we face
everyday that can keep us from being free.
To experience freedom in the
fullest possible terms we must be willing to let go of our
past, realizing if we keep pulling on the threads of our past
we will unravel the tapestry of our life.
The past is just that, the
past, it can't be changed. We are no longer the persons we
once were. It's time to move on, using the learning's from our
past to propel us to a brighter future. The price of freedom
demands we let go of our past. To experience freedom we must
be willing to confess our sins, repent, and move to a closer
relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus has won the battle.
Receive his forgiveness and
enjoy the freeing knowledge that through Christ we are saved
for eternity. Let go of guilt and condemnation. Christ has
paid the price for our freedom. The desire for freedom also
means we need to realize all people will not think alike. Just
as we are free to believe, say, and do what we want to, for
the most part, means others have the same right, whether we
agree with it or not. This is a price we pay for freedom.
This doesn't mean we have to
agree with others, agree with their life styles, or accept
what they do. But it does mean we have to acknowledge that
they are free to make the choices they make.
Our mission as Christians is
to influence them in the ways of Jesus, and to pray that God
will transform them into a new life in Christ.
Our scripture readings today
offer us the key to freedom. And the key that unlocks freedoms
gate is love.
Jesus tells us to remain in
his love, by obeying his commands and by loving others as we
Love doesn't mean we
shouldn't be critical of injustice, immorality or the various
forms of oppression we encounter. Love doesn't mean we simply
accept everything we hear or seen done.
As a matter of fact with love
we need to speak out against sin, speak out against
immorality, and speak out against false gods and religions.
Now demonstrating this kind of love, the love of Christ may
cause us to be persecuted, shunned, or cast aside. So be it,
this is the price we pay for freedom.
For the sake of freedom we
have to seek understanding, we have to set an example of
Christ-like living, and we have to meet folks that are
different than us where they are, so we can witness the truth
of Jesus Christ to them.
You and I have been blessed,
we have been blessed to be born in this country, or to have
become citizens of this country, and we are blessed to live in
a country founded on the principles of the Christian faith.
From the Pilgrims that landed
at Plymouth nearly four hundred years ago, to the men who
signed the Declaration of Independence, Christian believers
built our country. Famous statesman Patrick Henry said, "It
cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great
nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians;
not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!" These
men and women of God, followed Jesus Christ, trusted in the
Bible and had character, honor, and high moral standards. They
were people of prayer who put God first and continually sought
Him for intervention. I believe that because of their
commitment to Christ and persistence in prayer, America has
been greatly blessed.
Today, America has fallen
from a high position of integrity and honor, which was based
upon the foundation of God's Word. America's character, which
was once the talk of the nations, has now faded because we
have turned from the One that made this nation great. We have
turned away from the practice of blessing others.
Now the recent events of
terrorism have raised the awareness that freedom is not to be
taken for granted but rather freedom does have a price. And in
the midst of this terrorism, a window of opportunity has been
given to us, to once again seek God, to ask God to give us
direction. As a result the threat of terrorism has
dramatically altered our belief in self-reliance, turning many
Americans back to God.
Restoration to our nation
will only come by the hand of God, and God will use His people
to bring about His purpose. Every person has a part, and if we
pray and listen, God will show us what to do. And we must
willing to do what God tells us to do, fulfilling our
responsibility as Christians and as citizens of the United
As free people we are called
to address the tension that will most certainly be created
from time-to-time between our Christian position and our
To this end some have decided
the best way to deal with this tension is to simply be totally
nationalist, allowing the countries desires to guide there
thinking. Placing their trust in the political and economic
landscape to give guidance and direction.
And still others have
determined that isolationism is the way to go, meaning they
isolate themselves from anything dealing with the country they
live in preferring to live an isolated Christian life.
Christianity is to be lived in community, not in isolation.
Both extremes are improper
and not in keeping with the gospel. The gospel calls us to
love others, we can't do that in isolation and we can't love
as Christ loves, simply by having a nationalistic attitude. We
are called to live out our faith in the communities we live
and within the country we reside.
We must confront the tensions
of God and country head on, seeking God's purposes in each
case. Through this tension we will encounter choices.
It's in these choices, and
the decisions we make that we will see God's mighty hand at
work. It's in this tension that we will grow as Christians.
It's in this tension that others will come to know Jesus
Christ face-to-face. It's working through this tension that
America will be restored once again to its high moral
standards, focused once again on Christians values.
Today we must commit
ourselves to maintain the determination that we as Christians
will not compromise the teachings of our faith, the beliefs on
which our country was founded.
Like the founders of our
nation and the saints who have gone before us, we can find
unequaled strength in our Creator. To maintain our freedoms,
we ought to seek this strength and maintain our faith in Jesus
Christ, committing ourselves to the knowledge of God's Word,
and allowing the Holy Spirit to make us strong.
The gospel tells us love,
justice, and righteousness are superior to wisdom, might, and
riches. Therefore, our faith, grounded in love, ought to
influence the society we live in and thus the future course of
We must not allow our society
to determine our faith or guide the future direction of this
country. This is our mission as Christians. This is the price
we pay for the freedoms we enjoy, and the freedoms those who
come after us will enjoy.
But most importantly, never
forget that one battle for freedom has been won. Not the
battle for our countries independence, not the battle for
freedom of speech and religion, but a much greater battle,
which has eternal consequences. The battle for freedom I refer
to is the battle that has freed us from sin and death. Because
of Jesus Christ, because of his death and resurrection, we are
a free people, free from the ravages of sin, and the eternal
damnation of death. This is the price God has paid for our
In Christ we are a free
people. Thanks be to God!
Read other messages by Pastor Wade