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McCormick: Reflecting on freedoms offered by faith

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our freedom.

I just left the fireworks store (one of the many in Winchester) and purchased all the essential elements of celebrating our freedom this Fourth of July.

I got something for each one of my kids, and of course, something for the kid in me.

In addition to preparing for the fireworks and remembering the unique gift we’ve been given to live in a free country, I’ve been reflecting on the freedoms I have found in my Christian faith.

Here are three ways I have found freedom in my faith as a follower of Jesus. Perhaps, they will be helpful to you as well.

Freedom one

Freedom to remove blinders and see others.

Recently, it occurred to me there are people all around me, every day, that I do not see.

Perhaps, it’s because I’m busy doing good things.

Maybe, it’s because the people around me are a different race or live in a different part of town than me.

For these reasons and many others, I have been in bondage to my limited perspective.

Jesus spoke about two men with similar experiences in Luke 10.

They were religious men who passed right by another man in need.

They physically saw the man, but what they saw was a problem, not a person.

Then, someone of a different ethnic background, a Samaritan, walked by. Jesus says, “When he saw him, he had compassion on him.”

He saw the person in need.

My faith in following Jesus has started removing my blinders, so I can see the people around me in our community and respond to their needs.

Freedom two

Freedom to turn outward and serve others.

We are all naturally concerned with preserving our interests and happiness.

In fact, the term freedom is often used this way — free to pursue whatever you want without being hindered by others.

I’ve noticed something though: this kind of freedom is fleeting.

There is no amount of money, no relationship and no material possession that brings lasting happiness.

Ironically, we often become pre-occupied, addicted, and enslaved to the things we pursued in the name of freedom.

Real freedom can only be found in serving others.

A group of Public Innovators here in Winchester calls this “Turning Outward,” realizing there is genuine strength in service.

Veterans demonstrate this truth.

If you have ever talked with veterans, you will quickly notice, they not only fought for freedom in their service, but they also found freedom in their service.

They found a higher cause to serve which gave them life-long comrades as they served together.

They found freedom when they gave of themselves.

Jesus demonstrates this paradox in his life when he wrapped a towel around his waist and served his first followers by washing their feet.

Then, he gave the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross, so his followers could die to themselves and find freedom in serving others.

Freedom three

Freedom to move past the hurt and forgive others.

They say unforgiveness is a deadly pill we swallow hoping to kill someone else.

Therefore, of all the freedoms available for the follower of Jesus, the freedom to forgive may very well be the most powerful.

There have been times when I have been a person in power and have received unwarranted criticism.

I have also been marginalized left to feel vulnerable of being taken advantage of by a majority group in power.

I have come to realize by looking at the life of Jesus, that on both sides, the only way forward after hurt is forgiveness.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We         shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and      our victory will be a double victory.”

Jesus on the cross prayed “Father, forgive them.”

Choosing to forgive demonstrates ultimate strength and empowerment no one can take away from you.

We do have a lot to celebrate this Fourth of July.

I hope and pray whatever circumstances you’re presently in, you look for and find the most genuine freedom available.

Jesus, help us to experience your  freedom in our lives, a freedom that will enrich our lives and the lives of those around us in our community.

Mike McCormick is the lead minister at Calvary Christian Church, one of the original partner churches for Upward40391. He can be reached at mike.mccormick@calvarychristian.net.