By CRAIG HARRIS
John 15: 12-15 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Have you ever heard of Behnam Irani? As you read this, he is in prison in Iran. His family is concerned about his health at the moment because he is reported to have an intestinal disorder. He was arrested in his home and sentenced to six years in prison without a trial. His crime? He became a Christian and a pastor. You might be arrested just for reading this column in Iran. Or in China, or Myanmar, or Thailand, or hundreds of other places in the world where the government is elevated above the individual.
The freedom we are blessed with in America came at a terrible cost. Freedom is never free. It is always paid for in blood. I am thankful today for those who sacrificed their lives so that I could live in freedom.
My challenge is to take full advantage of the freedom that has been purchased for me. How sad to live in America today and still be a slave.
But Jesus said if we sin we are a slave to sin. Sin may be fun for a time, but it always takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.
Jesus set us free from the slavery of sin. He paid for our salvation so we could be truly free now and for all eternity. It's not a coincidence that America promotes freedom and is great because of it; God himself knows the value of freedom. Paul said it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
I am doubly-blessed. I live in a land where rights are protected and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed. I've been set free by the blood of more than a million men and women who died for this country. But I've also been set free by the blood of the creator himself. It staggers the mind.
My desire is to live my life worthy of the price that was paid. My desire is to live my life in a way that honors those who shed their blood for me.
Craig Harris is an author, journalist and minister. See more at http://threeminutebiblestudy.blogspot.com