So often when I hear that word, my mind immediately screams it in the same justified agony as William Wallace during his gruesome death in "Braveheart". The word has always come with such a cost—perhaps not for me personally—but freedom has never been free.
As every American knows, our country's freedom was built on the lives of men and women who fought against the injustices of British rule in the early days of our history. Today our armed forces, both domestic and abroad, still offer their time spent with family, their daily comforts, sometimes even their lives in defense of that elusive goal.
Our country was also founded on the principle of freedom of religion. Legally, that means that each individual in this country is free to worship in the manner he or she so chooses. Therefore we have become a nation no longer "under God", but a nation of "pick and choose your own way". And that freedom has also been costly. So many lives have been lost as a generation groping for the truth, settled instead for gangs, abortion, drugs, or suicide.
For me personally, freedom means that I no longer have to live under fear of death and judgment. I no longer have to live under the unattainable strictures of ancient God-given law. I don't have to remember all the miriad rules and procedures that used to be necessary to obtain forgiveness when those laws were broken.
Am I special? Am I exempt?
I am redeemed, sanctified, and justified. Someone greater, more powerful than I could ever be, has paid that cost for me. His name is Jesus. And because he took on all the evil I ever thought of doing or ever will do, took that evil to the grave, and overcame death for me—now I am free. So now, when the God of the universe looks at me, he no longer sees sin and death. He sees a child forgiven, and he loves me. And the knowledge of the unfailing love of Christ is more freeing than any court or army or law can grant.
I am free to live and to love and to serve and to teach and to worship. I am free to be the "me" God created, without worry or fear or death. And because of that, I do my very best not to make him ashamed of me—because I love him too. I try daily to make decisions that are honorable and right; not because the "law" tells me to, but because of the love I have for the One who paid the ultimate price for my mistakes. My actions are guided by love, not fear of punishment.
It is good to remember that freedom of any kind is never free. Let us all be mindful of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and strive to act in a manner worthy of their sacrifice.