This is the week that we celebrate our independence as a country, and there is a lot to celebrate. We are living in the best time in history, in the best country in history, and experiencing the most affluence in history. We have more freedoms and opportunities than many have ever experienced before. And this experiment in governing was kickstarted on the first Independence Day.
However, our country is far from perfect and there is a lot we can get better at, too. Here are four things to consider this 4th of July holiday from a Christian perspective.
America is great, but it’s not perfect.
It’s no secret that we’re living in a complex time in the United States. We may not realize it, but events that have transpired over the past few years will be looked upon as monumental in future generations, whether for better or worse. There are many disagreements and different points of view being presented for the issues we face. In the current political landscape, it can be easy to be discouraged with how divided our country is and to forget the principles it was founded on. The way our founding fathers envisioned government was pretty brilliant, but it was far from perfect and even then it was full of disagreements. But thanks to the lack of social media, the founding fathers were forced to sit in a room and figure things out rather than lob insults at each other from behind a keyboard. We are a great nation, but we if we took the effort we use to highlight our differences and use it to unite, we would gain more ground.
America is good, but it could be better.
Alexis de Tocqueville is often quoted for saying that “America is great because America is good; and if America ever ceases to be good, she will no longer be great.” While our country is incredibly benevolent with foreign aid and local provisions for those in need, as followers of Jesus we are called to do even more.
It was Jesus who told us to “love our neighbor” and it was the Apostle Paul who told us to “practice hospitality.” As a Jesus people who also happen to be citizens of the United States, we should always lead the way to be more receptive to those different than us and being the first to walk across the room and extend a hand of grace to those in need. Especially in light of the drug addiction that is crippling our youth and the human trafficking issue that is enslaving people every day.
Recently we discussed this at Real Life when we posed this question for all situations: What does love require me to do?
Freedom isn’t free.
The fact that I get to write these words, share these ideas, and teach at a church is a freedom that was provided by others blood, sweat and tears. We gained our freedom by those who had the courage to declare independence and then fight for it. We kept our freedom by those who serve as first responders and defend our country both at home and abroad. And we enjoy our freedom due to hard working men and women who raise awareness, work hard, care for the marginalized and rescue the hurting. All of this comes at a cost. With all of the fireworks and picnics and barbecues that we’ll enjoy on the 4th, let us not forget those who helped provide these opportunities.
Jesus is the hope of the world.
At the end of the day, our hope is not in a country… as great and as good as she may be… but it is in a risen Savior. One who transends governments and empires. And if all this freedom that we now enjoy were to be taken from us, our hope would still remain. After all the Nero’s and Pharoah’s, Hitler’s and Stalin’s, and even the good ones, like the Lincoln’s and Reagan’s have come and gone… Jesus still remains. And he alone has declared our independence from the laws of sin and death.
Happy 4th of July! Thanks to America and God’s grace… we live freely. And thanks to Jesus… we can live eternally.