|In 1824, Peru won its freedom from Spain, in part because of the skillful leadership of Simon Bolivar. Shortly afterward, he was approached by a delegation and asked to become their first president. Bolivar declined. The people of Spain still wanted to do something special to show their appreciation, so they offered him a gift of a million pesos, a large fortune in those days.
Bolivar accepted the gift and then asked, “How many slaves are there in Peru?” Hearing the number of slaves and the price they were being sold for, he gave the one million pesos along with a portion of his own estate to buy all the slaves in Peru and set them free, saying, “It makes no sense to free a nation, unless all its citizens enjoy freedom as well.”
Freedom is rarely free. Those who enjoy it are able to do so because somebody paid a price. Paul says in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
What jumped out to me today as I read that verse was the simple word, Christ. Jesus had to set us free. We weren’t that way by default. And doing so cost Him His life. Bolivar paid a million pesos to free Spanish slaves; Jesus gave His life so that whoever believed in Him would experience freedom (John 3:16), not from earthly captivity but from eternal bondage.
As we remember and celebrate our nation’s freedoms this weekend through grilling burgers and launching fireworks (kind of a weird tradition when you think about it), let’s not forget that freedom isn’t free. Most of all, let’s give thanks to our great God whose grace and lovingkindness made it possible for us to experience everlasting life in Jesus.
P.S. Join us this Sunday at 9:15 and 11am as we explore the life of another “everyday saint” and how God does extraordinary things in and through ordinary folks like us.