Freedom: don't just claim it, live it

On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate their Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776. There are fireworks, parades, family gatherings, and barbecues. There are baseball games, concerts, and patriotic displays from flag flying to everything red, white, and blue on streamers, balloons, and the clothes folks are wearing. Whatever our differences in political opinion, on this day Americans join to celebrate freedom and to partake in the same events and activities.

In thinking about Independence Day, I’ve been pondering a statement made by 20th-century American novelist and poet William Faulkner: “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”

The idea of practicing freedom, rather than just celebrating it, has at times seemed a distant and difficult concept to me, such as when I’ve felt enslaved by circumstances, fears, and even my own mortality. My longing and great desire for freedom turn me again and again to the source book of all healing: the Bible. The more I study Jesus’ teachings, the more I understand that independence from all forms of oppression—mental, emotional, physical—is found in God’s infinite power and love. God made us free, and this heritage of freedom endows us with the divine power to assert our freedom and dominion.

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