"Sharing the Dream"
 (John 8:31-36)

229 years ago this country, the United States of America, proclaimed its freedom as it received its independence. The idea of freedom was a dream shared by all those, who so many years ago traveled to this country to escape persecution and injustice.

But the pursuit of freedom is not exclusive to our country's history, or to just a few hundred years of world history. Humanity's quest for freedom has its roots in the beginning of time. For thousands of years someone, somewhere, has sought freedom, dreaming of a day when true equality and justice exists for all people.

I think it's safe to say there has been more lives lost for the cause of freedom then any other cause in the history of the world. Countless wars have been centered on freedom, people have drowned in the ocean making there way to another country via makeshift rafts to be free, people have given up there livelihood so that the future of the one's who follow will be beaming with freedom, and people have made the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of the many.

The dream of freedom, humanity thrives on it, our hope is in our desire to be a free people. The United States was founded to be a free nation, and to remind folks of this dream we have many symbols of freedom we display, some of which you see this morning.

The Statue of Liberty stands tall to welcome newcomers to the shores of this remarkable nation, and perhaps offers the greatest message of hope to those entering this country. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

The message on the Liberty Bell reads, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," which is taken from Leviticus 25:10

Our flag reminds all who see it that this country's foundation is based on the ideal "that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Patrick Henry said, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me…give me liberty or give me death!" This proclamation was borne from the fiery determination and uncompromising religious and moral beliefs that transformed our forefather's dream of an independent nation into reality.

This brave person and others like him, not counting the personal cost, forged ahead and blazed the trail to the freedom we enjoy.

So today on the eve of the nations birthday, we must maintain the determination that we as individuals who comprise this nation, will not compromise those beliefs on which our country was founded. We must protect our God-given legacy and claim it as our own, and share it openly with others.

But while we gather this weekend to sing patriotic songs, eat around picnic tables, and sit on hilltops to watch fireworks, remember there are still many folks in this country, and around the world, who still only dream of freedom. There are still many people being exploited, persecuted, and oppressed, that are still seeking the freedom we celebrate this weekend. To ensure our freedom, each of us must maintain our faith in God's Word. We must place our faith in the way, the truth, and the life, and allow our faith to set us free. Like those who have gone one before us, we must find unequaled strength, not in the world or our nation, but in our Creator.

God in Jesus Christ is humanity's ultimate freedom, and this freedom is found in the truth, and it's truth that sets us free from the greatest enemy and oppressor humanity has ever encountered, SIN! The freedom Jesus offers far surpasses the freedom any nation of this world can offer.

It's one thing to live in a country that allows unmatched temporal freedoms. But it's another to be free from sin and eternal damnation. And it's a huge mistake to equate the two.

Regardless of where we live in this world, sin runs rampant, and it's sin that keeps us from being truly free. Even here in America, because of sin, we are not experiencing the freedom God intends for us. You see sin has a way of enslaving us, controlling us, and dictating our actions. Sin has a way of using our temporal freedoms to take advantage of others, to serve our wants, and desire for power.

But God offers us a way to truly be free, Jesus Christ. Jesus can free us from this slavery that keeps us from becoming the person and nation God created us to be.

In this country alone, where freedom is the way of life, we are still slaves to the many things that keep us from being all that God created us to be. And it's this form of slavery that leads to all the corruption, crime, poverty, injustice, oppression, and inequalities that we, even in this "free" country, still experience.

True freedom only comes through the knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is the truth that sets us free.

Now the freedom Jesus offers is not the freedom to do what we want. He gives us the freedom to follow God. And as we seek to serve and follow God, Jesus' perfect truth frees us to be all that God wants us to be. Jesus shows us clearly the way to eternal life with God.

Jesus is the source of truth, the perfect standard for what is right. He frees us from the ultimate consequence of sin, from self-deception, and from the power of Satan. Think of it this way: we serve a God who can set people free from the power of sin in our everyday life, not just from the penalty of sin. Now that true freedom!

The freedom I speak of can be experienced by all people, regardless of the country they live in, regardless of the there economic status, regardless of their race, regardless of their national origin, and regardless of what others say.

The freedom I speak of is the freedom of eternal truth. This is ultimate freedom, this is the freedom people really dream of, this is the freedom we ought to be living in this country and in turn sharing with others. This is the freedom America ought to be striving for.

Freedom is a wonderful gift from God, a gift to be cherished and not taken advantage of, or taken for granted; freedom is not an entitlement, it's a gift.

But like many things in life freedom has its challenges and watch-outs as well.

  • We need to confront the limitations of temporal freedom with limitless freedom offered by Jesus Christ.
  • We need to avoid becoming slaves to our earthly freedoms; to the point anything goes.
  • We need to ensure our quest for freedom doesn't become a means of persecuting and oppressing others.
  • We need to acknowledge our slavery to sin and how our sin affects others.
  • We need to understand that only Christ is the way to true freedom, and it's through Christ that the dream of freedom is lived out; and if we live in Christ, we live as a free people.

God has blessed each of us and this country beyond measure. We are so blessed to live, laugh, and love in freedom, freedom to enjoy all that our hearts hold dear.

God has blessed our nation from sea to shining sea, from the enormous Great Lakes in the north to the winding Rio Grande in the south. The unique cities and towns that dot our land, the rolling hills, the majestic mountains, and the colorful deserts all make up what we call America. We are so blessed, and truly this is our "home sweet home."

We are blessed to be a diverse population, gathered from the far reaches of the world, working together to make America all it can be, under the watchful eyes of God Almighty.

And as God demands, America, the land with much, must share its blessings with people of every hue, nationality, and ethnic origin, and invite them to live among us in this great land of opportunity, so that we can all live together as "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Yes this weekend we gather to celebrate freedom, God's gift. But in the midst of our celebration let us be reminded that its only in Christ one can truly be free, and that there is still much work to do to share this dream of freedom with others. Amen.

 (Acts 2:1-21)

Read other messages by Pastor Wade