by Associate Pastor Jen Shenk

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
~2 Corinthians 3:17

The Fourth of July has come and gone. It’s often a day for outdoor barbeques, taking off from work, family gatherings, parades, getting together with friends, fireworks displays, and reflecting on freedom.

As Mennonites who follow Jesus, what does freedom mean in our context? More importantly, does freedom look the same for all of us who are American citizens? For those of us who can climb corporate ladders, have access to good schools, be immune from racial profiling, live in safe neighborhoods-- this is freedom that I’m guessing we take for granted.

Recently there were rallies held across the country to protest unfair immigration laws. The crowd chanted, “Families Belong Together!” in between countless stories of persecution and injustice. A reporter asked one of the protesters, “What’s the point in going to something like this? Do you really think you’re going to change anything by attending this rally?” (I had to admit that I had wondered the same thing deep down myself.) The person replied, “Sir, I don’t come to these events to change my country. I come to these events so my country doesn’t change me.”

As I continue to reflect on what that person said, I think it’s the essence of true freedom. Being truly free in Christ means we have a different starting point and a different view than what our culture does. We know that our independence isn’t reliant on a government and cannot be bought or paid for. When we are led by the Holy Spirit, we are free to act and behave as Jesus did-- independent of cultural or political expectations. We can abide in God’s Spirit and be led by love. 

Independence. Freedom. May we remain grounded in our true, unchangeable identity as children of God. Let us use our freedom in Christ to set others free. 


Note: This originally appeared in the July 2018 edition of Kernels.