Key Texts: 2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Being July 4th, I feel compelled to say a word or two about freedom.

As I thought about this, I considered all I might write about.

Should I say something about law and grace?

Should I comment on recent issues in the news that raise questions about personal and religious liberty?

Should I remind you, dear reader, about the founding of the United States of America or the Declaration of Independence and try and say something that has yet to be said about such weighty matters?

Or should I just post a poem about Lady Liberty and leave it at that?

I decided to do none of the above.

Instead, I was simply led to post this one, powerful bit of Scripture from the writings of the apostle Paul.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Much is being said these days about religious and political and social and cultural and personal freedom: what such freedoms are all about, how they are defined, how we protect them, and so on.

But for me, this one bit of scripture speaks more powerfully and eloquently than most things I have read or heard lately.

Where God is – there is freedom.

It isn’t the freedom to abuse or hurt others. It isn’t the freedom to be free in a reckless, irresponsible way. It is, though, the freedom that we speak about when we use the word grace.

No one is perfect, no one can judge others with the same righteousness and justice that God alone can use for His divine purposes.

We must be careful when we fling around terms like liberty, freedom, justice, and grace and tell others what they mean.

We should also cherish these things: freedom, justice, and grace – for all people.

Grace, I believe, especially – it is this for which we should be most grateful – because it is the source of the greatest freedom of all – the freedom from the wages of sin and death.

So, on this Fourth of July, let the fireworks and celebration rock on.

But I invite people of faith to especially celebrate the freedom that comes from grace – the ultimate, spiritual freedom – that comes from God and God alone.


By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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