Thanks be to God for freedom

While on vacation a number of years ago, we turned on the hotel television to watch the morning news and were greeted with images from France. President Clinton was honoring fallen veterans on Omaha Beach. Crosses — lots of crosses (some without names) — marking a sea of graves of men who never made it off the beach. Solemn parades celebrating…Freedom.

We left our room, went around the corner and faced the Alamo. More images. The line in the sand. Bowie. Travis. (“I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch.”) Crockett. (“I have come to your country,…to aid you all that I can in your noble cause…and all the honor that I desire is that of defending…the liberties of our common country.”) Thirteen Days. A monument to…Freedom.

Freedom costs. It costs a brother, who is 300 yards behind you as you head up Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 and is hit by a mortar shell. It was 70 years ago, but the pain of freedom’s cost still burns deep. It costs a country and a state her young men, cut down in the prime of life. It costs physically. It costs financially. It costs emotionally.

Our country has been built on “Freedom events.” A Boston Tea Party. The first amendment. Civil War. Emancipation Proclamation. “Remember the Alamo.” Pearl Harbor. D-Day. Vietnam.

But the Christian life is built around a single freedom event — the Cross. Aside from the afternoon being midnight black, for many it was an ordinary day. For some it has become the extra-ordinary day. God on the cross. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Loneliness. Sin. A last breath. Death. Willing, will-full death. Resurrection.

Don’t forget the resurrection.

The cross without the resurrection would have been failure. The cross with the resurrection is confident expectation (aka, hope). Victory. Freedom.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,” Paul says, “certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:5-7). Century after century it has been proven that man’s death provides only bondage. The only death that provides freedom is Christ’s death.

And as with all freedom, Christ’s freedom came with an expensive price tag. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’” (Mk. 15:34). The blackness of that lonely hour we will never know. The emptiness will remain a mystery to us. The horror will be eternally contained only in the mind of God. But we will forever be recipients of Christ’s conquest.

We are free. Completely free. Free from sin. Free from death. Free from hopelessness. Free from the law. And the freedom is freely given by God (we do not and cannot pay for it). But it wasn’t free. It cost God everything. It cost His Son. That is THE freedom, with a cost.

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