Love and freedom

By Pastor John J. Settlage - Your pastor speaks

I have many fond memories of ‘Independence Day’. July fourth stirs thoughts of picnics, parades, flags, and fireworks. I think of golden wheat fields and fireflies, long summer days, cousins and friends and homemade ice cream. While these are all great things to reminisce about, the fact that we live in a country where we have opportunities and freedom is the celebration! It is so easy to forget or overlook the amazing privileges and blessings that we enjoy while forgetting the tremendous sacrifices others have made for our benefit. Lord, forgive us for our lack of gratitude.

There is a divine and spiritual connection between love and freedom. True love is absolutely about freedom. This is the kind of love Jesus demonstrates to us in that He grants us free will. He does not force, coerce, demand, or control our will. He gives us freedom to choose or reject His loving grace. We have freedom to succeed or fail. He gives us the responsibility to live out our freedom with Him or without, it really is our choice. By Christ’s love He woos us toward His love and grace but love is not controlling. We can accept or reject. It is really that simple. The caveat is that apart from Christ it is impossible to love.

On a personal level without true love, Christ’s love, you will never find true freedom. For that matter you will never experience true joy, peace, gratitude, or a myriad of other Heavenly blessings. You will become trapped in a never ending cycle of bondage, (being controlled) or the desire to control others. You will lack freedom.

You will experience emptiness and discontentment in your life. You will be controlled by people, situations, and a very broken world system.

On the other hand, trusting Christ and living in His love you will enjoy perfect freedom. You will experience the joy, peace, and safety of living in His protection. You will not be controlled by fear. You will be able to love others without needing to judge, fix, or control them. You will be able to extend grace and allow them the responsibility of their own choices.

“If the Son makes you free, (through His sacrificial love), you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 NKJV

On a national level without Christ, freedoms will erode away. An oppressive tyranny will reach deeper and deeper into controlling your life. You will be told where and when you can go. You will be guilted into submission by loveless leaders. All that is perverse and ugly will be exalted while the pure and lovely will be outlawed.

We are however a nation that was founded on God’s principles and purposes. We were destined to be a free people. We were granted privileges by our founding documents to love and worship our God and to freely express His presence in our lives. We were given personal responsibility over our families, businesses, and communities to live in the freedom and consequences of our decisions. We became a great nation, one nation under God! There was love for God, love for our fellow citizens, and love for our country.

My prayer is that we would individually and nationally return to our love of Christ. I pray that my grandchildren and their children would know freedom, the same freedom that my grandparents knew. It may very well be the responsibility of our generation to repent of our apathy toward God and country, to rediscover our foundation of love and freedom. It may be our time to love sacrificially for the benefit of the generations to come. May they one day reminisce about parades, picnics, and wheat fields; and know Christ’s love and live in a free nation.

“Righteousness (right relationship with God) exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach (disgrace) to many people” Proverbs 14:34,NKJV. “God-devotion makes a country strong, God-avoidance leaves people weak” Proverbs 14:34; The Message

By Pastor John J. Settlage

Your pastor speaks

The writer is the pastor of Christ the King Church near Jackson Center.

The writer is the pastor of Christ the King Church near Jackson Center.