In January of 1991 an original copy of the 200 year old Bill of Rights was on exhibit in Montgomery, Alabama. Despite my sister’s displeasure, I was selected during my sophomore year of high school to join her senior class on a field trip to see this historic collection.
For years I had studied about these archives and I was excited to see them first hand. I remember standing around the dense, protective glass of the documents and reading it as if it were the first time.
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins with the following words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
I had no idea at that time that I would one day be a pastor or that these words would even need to be explained. As a fifteen year old, the words seemed abundantly clear. As citizens of the United States of America we have the freedom to worship.
The concept of freedom for a purpose has biblical roots.
“Go back to Pharaoh,” the LORD commanded Moses. “Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.’” Exodus 9.1 (NLT)
The original intent of freedom for the Israelites in their release from slavery in Egypt was not political or even to ease human suffering. Freedom for the Israelites is not simply a metaphor for overcoming individual societal limitations. The purpose of freedom for the Hebrews was for worship of the one true God.
We enjoy exceptional freedom as citizens of this great country. We are constitutionally free to pursue liberty and fulfill the desires of our hearts. We have the opportunity to be truly free.
Freedom for our souls is not found in reckless abandon without any limitations. We were created with a deep longing for God. We are never fully free until our souls find the forgiveness of the cross of Christ and we are bound to the One who formed us.
As we celebrate our political freedom, may we freely exercise our right to worship the living God and find liberty for our souls.