I love this country.
I am proud to be an American, there is doubt about it. Tomorrow night I will celebrate our nation’s independence with my fiancée by going to watch fireworks and good racing at the local speedway. You can’t get much more American than that, can you?
Yet, I do not worship this country. If you have read this blog in the past, you are well aware that I am concerned that many American Christians have confused patriotism and Christianity. The two terms are far from synonymous. I am concerned by the idea that many churches will take time to recite the pledge of allegiance during Christian worship services this week. Something seems wrong when we gather together to worship Jesus Christ and yet say the words, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”
I am loyal to this country, but my allegiance is first and foremost pledged to the Triune God.
The reality is, for those of the Christian faith, Independence Day already took place a couple of months ago: Easter Sunday. For it is only in Christ that we are truly free.
Yes, America gives us the freedom to believe what we want, say what we want, and go where we want (All within reason of course). Yet, how is this truly freedom? Does America free us from our painful pasts? Does America free us from our sins, struggles, and addictions? Does America free us from the reality that death is always at our doorstep? Of course it doesn’t — America simply cannot do these things.
It is only in the saving grace found in the gospel of Jesus Christ that we become truly free. No matter what future our country or our world holds, nothing can take that freedom away. Jesus gives us the freedom to live boldly, regardless of whether or not our country is “free”! If our government fell tomorrow and the new rulers were to tell us that we were no longer free — how could this change the freedom found in grace? We can stand and proclaim the gospel regardless of who is in power!
See, for the first centuries of Christianity, it was illegal to preach the name of Jesus under the Roman empire; yet, these early Christian were more free than many “free” people in the world today. No matter how hard Rome, the most powerful nation this world has possible ever seen, tried — the message of Jesus lived on. Further, the resurrection of our savior tells us that death cannot hold us or trap us — we are free from the power of death. Therefore, we are called to live lives of true independence by living boldly and giving our lives away because death is not the end!
Jesus takes our burdens and we are no longer defined by our past. We are free to live new lives and become the people that we were born to be.
America is a wonderful country — but it cannot offer us true freedom. As we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, let us remember the life-changing freedom that we can experience in the grace and redemption of Jesus Christ.