When I was in elementary school, we sang a popular protest song in church: “Freedom isn’t free. You’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to sacrifice, for your liberty.” It’s still the first song that comes to mind whenever I think of Independence Day.

As Americans, we honor the human toll exacted to win our independence; in the many conflicts since, that price has been paid again to keep our country “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

As Christians, we honor the miraculous toll exacted to win our independence from sin and death, paid not by us but by Jesus Christ on the cross. He won us the greatest freedom of all, and made us citizens of His eternal nation. He also gave us precise instructions about what we are to accomplish with that freedom: Love one another. Serve one another. Go out into the world and make disciples of all. His Word is designed to be spoken to all, without restriction and without hesitation.

In her most recently message to the ELCA, Bishop Eaton wrote, “Neither culture nor behavior define what is distinctive about the Lutheran movement. It’s our understanding of the gospel. The gospel word creates faith. The gospel word is judgment and promise. Faith created by this gospel word sets people free to serve the neighbor.” (You can read the message in its entirety at www.livinglutheran.org.)

Jesus Christ freed us from sin and paid for our salvation, and asked nothing in return but love. The only cost we pay is love – an investment that is returned to us each time we help a neighbor, welcome a stranger, feed the hungry, or visit the lonely.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

2 Corinthians 3:17