It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
The Liberty Bell, a venerated national icon originally cast in London in 1752. As the city of Philadelphia expanded, Isaac Norris, speaker of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, saw the need for “a good Bell of about two thousands pound weight” that could be heard a greater distance. It was to be placed in the bell tower of the State House.
The bell summoned citizens to public meetings, to hear important announcements. In 1761, St Paul’s Church was permitted to assemble in the State House while their church was being constructed. They rang the bell to summon members to worship.
Its most resonant tolling was thought to be on July 8, 1776, with the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
Even then it was just a bell, a big, ole’ bell with a height of three feet, made of copper, tin and various other metals that contributed to a weight of over two thousand pounds.
It wasn’t even given the name Liberty Bell until 1837 in an edition of Liberty published by abolitionists of the New York Anti-Slavery Society. They rather liked the Biblical reference engraved along its side.
“…proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. Leviticus 25:10a
The fissured metal bell still hangs on display in Philadelphia in Liberty Bell Hall. It is secured by its original yoke of American elm.
For about four years the Liberty Bell lay in jeopardy of being melted down and used for cannons by the British. As they advanced toward Philadelphia in the fall of 1777 wagoneers transported the bell to the Zion German Reformed Church in Northampton Town – now Allentown – where it was hidden from the British beneath church floor boards until their defeat in 1781. Safely kept in God’s house.
Though it remains silent I can still hear a liberty bell ringing. Ding! Ding! Ding! Hear it? It’s the one in my heart. It proclaims liberty throughout the landscape of my soul, resonating into the deeps of my spirit, the Inhabitant, thereof, being God Himself.
Yes, I am free. Free indeed. Apostle Paul says that everything is permissible (I Corinth 6:12a). So, there. I resolutely proclaim with a ringing of my liberty bell I am a free woman (while disregarding, yet, another announcement for canned good collection at my church because, well, I’m free aren’t I?).
But hold up a minute.
My freedom in Christ frees me, alright…
-to walk humbly
-to serve cheerfully
-to choose gratitude
-to love unconditionally
-to shed grace on my oppressor
-to refrain from over-indulgence
-to destroy my detailed record of wrongs
-to release anger, hurl it into the depths of the sea
-to contribute canned AND dry goods to my church
Because not everything that my freedom permits is, indeed, beneficial.
Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.
I Corinth. 6:12a
Obedience allows me to enjoy my freedoms, not become enslaved to them. Indulging in sin silences that bell.
Everything is permissible for me – But I will not be mastered by anything.
I Corinthians 6:12b
So, when I refuse to surrender my rights…
When I allow myself to be mastered by those permissibles…
When I indulge in a people-pleasing over-doing or apathetic under-doing…
My liberty bell hangs by its yoke. Silent.
But do not use your freedom to INDULGE the sinful nature:
Rather SERVE one another in love. Galatians 5:13
In 1772 a petition was sent to the Assembly stating that some were “incommoded and distressed” by the steeple bell’s frequent ringing. Ha! The enemy likely claps his hands over his ears when my liberty bell rings to proclaim a holy announcement that I’ve exercised my freedom in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
~Does the liberty bell in my soul ring to summon others to worship a holy God?
~Does the enemy complain that I ring it too frequently?
~Do I protect my liberty bell from threat?
Professor Constance Greiff wrote of the Liberty Bell:
“It is irreparably damaged.…it is fragile and imperfect…but it has weathered threats, and it has endured.”
I’ll let my liberty bell ring freedom. Because it was for freedom Christ set me free. Free to obey, serve others in love, free to indulge. Without being mastered by any of it.