There’s not too much noI don’t love July 4th, and it truly is one of my favorite vacations. I love fireworks, I love parades, and I love a good family barbecue.
More than any other food or festivities, however, I love that the 4th of July prompts me to meditate on the topic of freedom. Naturally, I begin by reflecting on the freedoms that we are privileged to have in our nation. We have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and other such freedoms that many countries do not have.
Most importantly, however, I spend this time of year reflecting on the global and transformational freedom we have because of Jesus. Galatians 5 tells us that it is “for the freedom that Christ set us free,” and it is more than just a meaningless sentence buried in the pages of a religious text. It is the gracious truth of the gospel message, and it has profound implications for our lives today.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed centuries ago, our nation did not only experience momentary freedom. We didn’t just become free of the constraints and restrictions imposed on us. Instead, we have chosen to move towards independence so that we can experience freedom in all its fullness and exist as a nation in which people can truly thrive. This freedom is something we are living in right now, in our everyday life.
Likewise, the spiritual freedom Jesus gave us was not momentary or a means to an end. Christ has set us free FOR SOMETHING – so that we can “serve one another out of love” (Galatians 5:13) and grow each day in deeper levels of freedom as we walk in step with the Holy Spirit. . It is for freedom that Christ set us free, and we can choose whether or not we are going to walk in that freedom and how we are going to use it.
This year, the theme of freedom is particularly meaningful to me because I was able to see freedom in action through the San Diego Freedom Center. Thanks to the grace of God, the help of several investors, and too many miracle stories to count, our church was recently able to acquire and permanently close one of San’s most iconic and longest-running strip clubs. Diego which was for sale. Now this building will be transformed into a transitional living center where women who have survived sex trafficking and exploitation can receive hope, safe shelter and practical services.
I am more than delighted with this project for several reasons. I have been deeply moved by the subject of human trafficking ever since I first became aware of this pervasive injustice years ago. The fact that this type of slavery is one of the greatest crimes in our world today is absolutely astounding. When I heard the statistics on traffic in my own San Diego backyard, I completely defeated myself. It is overwhelming to hear the numbers, and the temptation is to feel detached or helpless due to the prevalence of this problem.
Yet it is extremely important to allow the reality and the weight of these numbers to crash into us. I knew that our church had to find a way to participate in the fight against this crime. I knew we had to find a way to bring freedom to people who were caught up in the sex industry, whether by choice or by force. I knew we had to find a way to use our freedom to serve others with love.
This is exactly why we are now working on the construction of the Freedom Center. This 4,000 square foot facility will be designed to provide holistic support to women so that they can receive resources and experience healing. We don’t just want to see women rescued from trafficking. We don’t just want momentary freedom for them. We want them to experience true and complete freedom that leads to a free and flourishing life.
The Freedom Center will have a reception hall, board rooms, bedrooms, kitchen and laundry room. Support staff will also be able to provide psychotherapy, food, shelter, employment, childcare, clothing, transportation, legal assistance and health care, as well as personnel managers. 24/7 on call with the possibility of meeting and monitoring potential victims of trafficking. To learn more about our plans for the Freedom Center, you can consult sandiegofreedomcenter.com.
As we celebrate July 4th, I want to encourage you to take time and meditate on the freedom you have gained through Christ. Do you live fully in this freedom? Are you using your freedom to serve and love others as you grow in daily dependence on God through the Holy Spirit?
I also want to ask you to join me in prayer for the Freedom Center and all the women who will pass through it. We have big dreams about how the Freedom Center will serve our community, and we look forward to embarking on similar projects in the near future. We are full of hope and gratitude for what God is doing.
Miles McPherson is the senior pastor of Rock Church in San Diego. He is also a motivational speaker and author. McPherson’s last book “The third optionTalks about the racial divisions pervasive in today’s culture and argues that we must learn to see people not by the color of their skin, but as God sees them – humans created in the image of God.