Independence Day

Posted: July 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

lRusty Old Bird Cage

We have been celebrating July 4th – the anniversary of American Independence. Achieving our independence from Britain came at a cost, and preserving our freedom over the ensuing 239 years has involved a cost. We, as Americans, have paid this price in full, and will continue to pay it. Today, Jesus is extending an offer to each of us – an Independence Day not confined to a single country, or even this world. He offers a freedom that lasts forever. As it says in Ephesians, “In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins.” Jesus spoke of freedom, but he spoke of a different kind of freedom: the type of freedom that comes not through power but through submission.  Not through control but through surrender.  Not through possessions but through open hands. God wants to emancipate his people; he wants to set them free.

Remember … freedom is never free. It will involve sacrifice. It will involve choices. It will involve yielding to God’s will. Yes, we will pay a cost, but what is being asked of us doesn’t even come close to the full price of the freedom Christ offers, a price we could never afford. But don’t worry … the price has already been paid.

Boston preacher Dr. S.D. Gordon placed a beat up, bent, rusted old bird cage beside his pulpit when he told this story. A scruffy-looking little boy about 10 years old was coming up the alley swinging this old caved in bird cage with several tiny birds shivering on the floor of it. The compassionate Dr. Gordon asked the boy where he got the birds. He said he trapped them. Dr. Gordon asked what he was going to do with them. The boy said he was going to play with them and have fun with them. The preacher said, “Sooner or later you’ll get tired of them. Then what are you going to do with them?” The lad said, “I have some cats at home. They like birds. I’ll feed them to my cats.” Dr. Gordon said, “Son, how much do you want for the birds?” The boy, surprised, hesitated and said, “Mister, you don’t want these birds. There just plain old field birds. They can’t even sing. They’re ugly.” The preacher said, “Just tell me. How much do you want?” The grubby little lad thought about it. He calculated and hesitated and said, “Two dollars?” To his surprise Dr. Gordon reached into his pocket and handed the boy two, one dollar bills. The preacher took the cage. The boy, with money in hand, hurried up the alley. Dr. Gordon walked around behind the building, opened the door of the cage and tapping on the rusty exterior he encouraged the little birds, one at a time, to find their way out through the narrow door and fly away. With the empty cage still beside his pulpit, the preacher went on to tell what seemed, at first, like a separate story. About how once upon a time, Jesus and the Devil had engaged in a negotiation. Satan had boasted how he had set a trap in Eden’s garden and caught himself a world full of people. “What are you going to do with all those people in your cage?” Jesus wanted to know. The Devil said, “I’m going to play with them, tease them. Make them marry and divorce and fight and lie. I’m going to teach them to hate and to kill one another. I’m going to have fun with them!” Jesus said, “You can’t have fun with them forever. When you get tired of playing, what are you going to do with them?” Satan said, “They’re no good anyway! I’ll kill them!” Jesus said, “How much do you want for them?” Satan said, “You can’t be serious! If I sell them to you, they’ll just spit on you. They’ll hate you. They’ll hit you and beat you. They’ll hammer nails into you! They’re no good.” Jesus said, “How much?” Satan said, “Your tears and your blood. That’s the price.” Jesus took the cage, paid the price, and opened the door.

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