July 4, 2024 Devotional

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5

Since today is Independence Day in the United States, let’s talk about freedom. From the website dictionary.com, freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Yet, someone or some entity needs to be the authority to grant that freedom. In the U.S., freedom has come to us largely through a democratic process of checks and balances, granting rights for people who are citizens of the country. Is it perfect? No. Do we still have a lot to learn? Yes. Are there people in the U.S. who do not experience freedom? Yes, again. Our reality is one of still being a, ‘work in progress.’

The beginning section of the Gospel of John is one of my most favorite parts of scripture. In it are several encounters that Jesus had with ordinary people living ordinary lives until the moment they met Jesus. They were ‘works in progress’ before and after they met Jesus. They were locked into a cultural system that didn’t allow them to be truly free. Think of the woman at the well who had an encounter with Jesus that changed everything she ever knew about herself and the world. And, think of Nicodemus, a religious leader who was curious to know more about Jesus. At night, he asked for an audience with Jesus and asked questions that would help him understand who Jesus was, what Jesus wanted, and what he was to do about that. They sought freedom, and it was Jesus who could provide the kind of freedom they so desperately desired.

When Jesus made the statement in our verse for today, it was a proclamation of the moment of true freedom. Nicodemus had a very hard time getting his head and heart around it. Nicodemus immediately asked how a person can return to his/her mother’s womb to be reborn. That, of course, was not the point. The point was that each person must make the decision to be born again – saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. When we put our trust in the saving grace of God, and not on ANYTHING that is in this world – our lives, our skill set, or any circumstance – then we’re beginning to get the point. When we fall into the arms of a loving Savior for salvation and vocation, then God will use us to do His holy will. That is NEVER easy, but it’s the only way. And THAT leads to true freedom in Christ, despite our worldly circumstances or lack of civic freedom.

If you’ve been hurt, then fall into the arms of a Savior and go through the hurt to reconciliation. If you’ve been misunderstood, then fall into the arms of a Savior and reconcile and heal, clarifying your heart to the other. If you’ve been wandering in the desert of sin, fall into the arms of a Savior for forgiveness, repentance, and healing. If today you are ready to be truly free, give Jesus your heart, pray to let Him in, confess your sin, and receive forgiveness and grace. God is waiting to give you the freedom that cannot come through a definition or any other person or entity. Freedom comes in Christ alone. Be born again today!