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The price of freedom
Pastor's corner
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This week we will celebrate Independence Day. As we reflect on this day, we have to be thankful for living in a country where we can enjoy freedom. But we must understand the freedom we enjoy comes at a great price.
Many men and women have made and are still making sacrifices for us to live in this land of the free and home of the brave. I am grateful to the men and women of our armed forces who stand ready to protect us from our enemies, those who threaten our freedom. At this moment, many are on foreign soil fighting. In our community we have many who have served our country fighting for freedom.
Every day, many poeple who complain about this country. We read stories of those who desecrate our flag, protest the war and ridicule our president. In spite of all that goes on in our country, we still have one of the greatest countries in the world. We enjoy many rights and privileges other people in many foreign countries cannot enjoy.
Yet, I think we complain more than anybody. We need to reflect on the price of our freedom. We could be in a country with limited rights. We could live in a country where we do not have freedom of speech or freedom of the press. We could be in a country where we don’t have freedom of religion.
I am grateful to be able to worship God in my own way. Many of the founders of this country came here to escape religious persecution. They were not able to worship as they desired, but they made sure we would be able to. Many gave their lives and others are giving their lives to secure freedom. We must not take it lightly.
There was a period in our history when  many did not enjoy freedom. But we can be thankful to those who were willing to stand up and fight for everyone in this country to be free. We have come a long ways from slavery and we have to understand the struggle for equality is not complete. We must all do our part to rid our country of inequality and injustice. If we fail to stand watch against things that threaten our freedom, we can find ourselves going backward rather than forward. Freedom must be protected.
I cannot reflect on freedom without thinking about my freedom in Christ. Our freedom in Christ also came at a great price. God gave his only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins. We were in bondage to sins, but were where liberated by Jesus Christ. Christ paid a great price. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our trangressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Jesus paid the penalty for our sins that we can be free from the bondage of sins. Through God’s grace and mercy we are free from the shackles of sin. We are no longer slaves to sin, but servants of Jesus Christ. We are not forced to serve Christ, but we serve him out of gratitude for the sacrifice he made for us.
Recently, one of my young members asked why we have soldiers who believe in God killing people in Iraq. He was around 12 years old and did not see how being a Christian and fighting in a war made sense. The only way I could explain it to him, without being theological, was to talk about our freedom in this country.
I had to help him understand what God meant when he said, “Thou shall not kill.” I explain to him our soldiers protect our freedom of religion. They fight against those who threaten our freedom. The Israelites had armies and the fought against their enemies. They fought against those who threatened their way of life. There is always a price associated with maintaining freedom.
As we celebrate Independence Day, reflect on the sacrifices made to secure our freedom. Be thankful for being in a country where you have freedom to express yourself. Thank God for the men and women in the Armed Force who stand ready to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, who threaten our freedom. Most of all, thank God for the freedom we have in Jesus Christ.

Jackson is pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church and the president of the United Ministerial Alliance.
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