Which Freedom Are You Living In?

Today is Canada Day. For those of you living south of “The Great White North,” it is the day Canadians set off fireworks and celebrate their birth as a nation. Clothes sporting red and white or a maple leaf are the norm. With the day off from work and barbeques flaring up, you’d think it was the Fourth of July.

Of course, that’s just a few days away. July 4 will see a similar celebration as Canada’s cousin, the United States, enjoys its own celebration. Fireworks, barbeques, and red, white and blue. As an American abroad, it’s fun to enjoy both days. I even have both flags flying on my porch.

Though few tend to mention it, these two days are very different. The holiday I grew up with is “Independence Day” while my current home but not native land celebrates “Dominion Day.” Independence and Dominion are not the same. In fact, if you mix them up, you’ll find yourself in a big mess.

What’s the Difference?

Let’s start with what I’m most familiar with: independence. In 1776, thirteen colonies of Great Britain came together to form a new nation. It was a long, costly process that included protests, letters back and forth to the governing body across the sea, and a bloody war. In the end those colonies won their independence from the British crown. King George III was without power or influence in the new nation. The United States was on its own.

During the letter writing process between the Continental Congress and British Parliament, the colonies made a proposal to remain subjects of the crown. Rather than complete independence, Congress suggested the formation of a dominion, an autonomous group still influenced by and answerable to the monarch. King George refused. A little more than 100 years later, though, the nation of Canada was given dominion status. It was granted by the British Parliament in the British North American Act 1867, and confirmed by the Canadian Parliament.

Canada, therefore, is not a truly independent nation. To become a citizen of Canada, immigrants must swear allegiance to the crown since “the Queen is our Head of State.” The Queen appoints a Governor General to carry out the constitutional duties of the monarch.

Every American grows up learning about the struggle for independence. The British and “red coats” are remembered as cruel and selfish. The biography of George Washington sitting by my bed speaks of his disdain for being treated like a second-class citizen simply because he was “a colonial.”

Canadians, though, live with an illusion of independence. The nation anthem declares Canada “glorious and free,” yet they remain subject to a far-removed individual who appoints someone else to fulfill her legal obligations to the nation. Today’s celebration is more popularly known as “Canada Day” instead of “Dominion Day,” removing this truth from their memory.

How Independent are You?

As I sat on the couch this morning, I couldn’t help but consider the powerful difference between independence and dominion. Independence celebrates freedom, whether we agree with it or not. Dominion reminds someone that they are subjects, that there is another who holds dominance over them, despite the promise of freedom.

Such is the struggle between the law of sin and the law of the Spirit. Sin promises the illusion of freedom by allowing you to enjoy all you desire and yearn for. “It’s all good.” “Carpe diem, baby; seize the day.” Do what feels right, what makes you feel good, what brings you happiness. But “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), placing us under its reign (Romans 5:21). This means we are dominated by sin, ruled by it, living in “the dominion of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

[tweetthis]When we are ruled by #sin, we live under the dominion of darkness. #God offers true #freedom.[/tweetthis]

On the other hand, the law of the Spirit, for those who walk in the Spirit, frees us from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). It is not the appearance of freedom, but a complete separation. Scripture tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11). We must “put to death the deeds of [our] sinful nature” (Romans 8:13 NLT), confronting our desires before they mature into sin, leading us back to death (James 1:15).

Too many Christians live believing they are free when they are still under dominion of the master they think they are loosed from. But God offers absolute freedom through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

[tweetthis]#God offers absolute #freedom thru the sacrifice of #Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. [/tweetthis]

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Don’t get me wrong, I have come to love Canada. This fall I will have lived here for 10 years. I’m more than eligible for citizenship. Yet the American heart inside of me that cherishes the Revolution and honors struggle shouts out, “No! Don’t do it.” It isn’t because there’s something wrong with Canada. It’s the giving up of true freedom.

Whichever holiday you are celebrating this week, stop and think about your life in Jesus Christ. Have you really given up the old life? Is it dead and gone? Are you walking in the true freedom of the law of the Spirit?

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.
(Galatians 5:1 NIV)