Freedom comes in many forms

By Paul Fries, Pastor Bethany Lutheran Church

As I stood in the city square of Plzen, Czech Republic, a few weeks ago, staring at the gathering of military vehicles and personnel, I was struck by how much things had changed. This was now a free country, and what was happening that day would not have been possible just over a decade ago. The tanks and soldiers werenÕt commanded by the communists. They were American.

Each year in May, the city invites American troops and veterans to their city to celebrate "Liberation Day," the anniversary of the day American troops rolled into town, freeing them from Nazi control at the end of World War II. The celebration of freedom goes on for nearly a week in a city that just 13 years ago was controlled by the Communist Party. The smiles on the faces say more than any of the speeches. The people are free.

Besides political freedom, many of the people have been given another freedom - freedom from sin and eternal death. For years, churches were persecuted, their members suffering on the job or in prison. But the freedom that comes from faith in Jesus as their Savior has also returned. Christian churches are growing again, slowly.

This freedom is one Christians in our country have known for many years, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The truth is, Jesus gave His life to set us free. By His death, all our sins are washed away. (1 John 1:7) We no longer have to live in fear of God (Ephesians 3:12), but may live in the confidence true spiritual freedom provides. (Romans 8:1-2)

Just as most Americans want everyone on earth to have the freedom we enjoy in our country, God wants all people to know the freedom He gives. As we celebrate our Independence Day, let us give thanks to God for the men and women who gave their lives so that we can worship freely in our country. And let us also thank Him for His Son, who gave His life so that we can be truly free.
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