Friday, January 25, 2013

Evaluating The Price Of Freedom

It was white with blue interior.  It had blue pinstripes running down the side with the words CAMARO spelled out on the bottom of the door.  Man, I loved that car.  It was a 1981 Camaro Berlinetta.  I drove it until it just wouldn’t drive no more.  For years I dreamed of restoring it, but never had the time or the money to do so.  Regularly, people would stop by and offer money for this machine that sat in the driveway.  Nobody ever offered enough.  I mean, sure they offered more than what its Blue Book value was, but they never could offer what this car was worth to me.  It was the first car I bought myself.  I worked hard for this sports car.  I remember well the jobs I worked and the sweat I spilled in order to pay this car off.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, could truly understand the price I paid for that car and what it was worth to me.  The investment I made in this car went far beyond the monthly payments I mailed in and the total amount of money I paid for it.  Over the course of four years, I invested much of my life working and sweating to pay that car off.   
While someone might drive by and see a rust bucket sitting in the driveway worth a few hundred dollars, they failed to see the real price paid for that rust bucket.  Yes, I know that the resale value of a car goes down with age, but that doesn’t change its original worth or the high price that was once paid for it.  

You may be thinking as you read this I must be in a bit of a melancholy mood this morning as I write.  Actually, that’s not true. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  I’ve been thinking of our culture and the world we live in.  I’ve been watching the dialog, the debates, and the rhetoric.  I’ve been watching as I see a polarization between differing ideologies.  I’ve been observing the growing tensions between this group and that group.  I’ve found myself scratching my head trying to figure out what in the world is going on.  

So, what does all this have to do with my Camaro?  Stay with me, and I think I can tie it all in.  In the days of the early church, Paul was trying to explain God’s free gift of grace to Roman believers.  In his letter to them he writes, “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV).  Paul is making a point, because, many of them didn’t get it.  Sure, they had been given an incredible gift from God that didn’t cost them anything, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t come without a price.  As believers, when we fail to recognize and value the enormous price that was paid for our salvation, it leads to a very immature approach to Christian living.  When we do that, like those early believers in Rome, we have a cheap view of grace that affords us an excuse to continue living life as usual instead of truly liberated which is what grace has made available for us.  Sure, salvation is free to us, but Jesus paid a hefty price in order to secure it for us.  If the first century church struggled with this concept, rest assured those of us that are 2000 years removed from the crucifixion are going to struggle with it as well.  Is it any wonder why Jesus instructed the disciples to remember Him every time they sat down and broke bread together?  Could it be that Jesus understood, if we fail to realize that the freedom He secured for us came at such a hefty price, that we would not value that freedom appropriately?  I think He understood that very well.  I also think He knew that this incorrect valuation of that freedom would result in living far below the quality of life that freedom was designed to afford us.  He also understood that this would prevent us from being thankful for what we’ve been given and catapult us into an entitlement paradigm where we would become more focused on our rights than our responsibilities.

I love my country.  I love the fact that I live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I love freedom.  I didn’t do anything to warrant be born here.  I’ve done nothing to earn my freedom, purchase it, or secure it.  I’m free because somebody else did all that for me.  Somebody spilled their blood for my freedom.  Somebody grew up without a dad or a mom or a husband or a brother or a sister so that I could have freedom.  Today there are those who are serving in the military who are consistently away from their families for long periods of time, so that I can stay at home with mine.  It’s extremely easy for me and everybody else who has been blessed with so much to lose sight of just how pricey our freedom was and is.  

Many years ago, a group of men and women risked everything to come to this land.  They had no guarantees.  They wanted freedom so bad they were willing to pay whatever price was required to get it.  They were willing to leave everything behind and replace it with uncertainty, danger, and enormous risk all for the chance of freedom.  Perhaps they were only thinking of themselves, but somehow I think it was more than that.  I think that just maybe they were thinking of their children and their children’s children.  I know that every day I think of what life is going to be like for my children in 25 or 30 years.  Again, it’s easy for us a couple centuries later to read about what they did without seeing the true value in what they did and the extreme price they paid.

Today we have a generation where many people walk through life with absolutely no idea of what the price tag of freedom is.  They enjoy its benefits but fail to recognize its cost.  They do not care about nor appreciate the sacrifices of former generations that have laid freedom in their lap.  We should not think it strange when their actions are consistent with that truth.  Because that freedom has cost them nothing, then the valuation of that freedom has become tainted.  As a result, they do not value this freedom as something sacred, or worth preserving.  If we’ve made a mistake it has been that we have failed to communicate that what they have been given wasn’t free at all.  We’ve failed to communicate to them that what is free to them cost somebody else something very valuable.  While we kick back in our comfortable living rooms, watching our big screen TVs, in our air conditioned houses, we have failed to follow the model that Jesus gave the disciples to constantly remember the enormous price that was paid for our freedom. Every opportunity we get we need to dialog about that.  We need to communicate that to our children and our children’s children.  We need to raise up a generation of young people who have thankful hearts rather than a sense of entitlement.  

Have I mentioned how much I loved my Camaro?  Well, I no longer have my Camaro.  I parted with it after many years.  And no, I did not get anywhere near what it was worth to me. Sure, it had some rust on it and needed a lot of work, but that didn’t change the price I paid for it.  Like my Camaro, America has some huge negatives.  Rust, if you will.  Greed, division, class warfare, controlling spirits, corruption, selfishness, etc.  Still with all that rust, it doesn’t change the price that was paid for it. 

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