Independence Day has been a favorite day of mine for as long as I can remember. Hot dogs, burgers, fireworks, and friends, when brought together, have a way of bringing a sense of peace to my heart and soul. Life’s anxieties are forgotten – even if just for a day – when I’m sitting next to loved ones while watching fireworks. Sometimes I wish it could last forever.
With as much as I love this day, though, I’ve been a little bugged by the Bible verses and general sayings of “God bless America.” Yes, I believe God has blessed America and I am deeply grateful for it. I might not be able to write a blog or freely worship Jesus if we didn’t have the first amendment (and if hundreds of thousands of soldiers didn’t die defending it). But I think certain things have a certain place.
When it comes to worshiping God, nothing is above it. Not my job, my writings, my possessions, or even my life – none of them is exalted above God. The same goes for the country I live in. Even though today is a day when we celebrate our freedom, I cannot worship America more than I worship God. And what I’ve come to find in my walk with God is that the freedom I have in Christ surpasses the freedom this nation gives me.
No doubt I am thankful for the freedom to vote how I want to, to write out my beliefs and opinions without being silenced by my government, and to go to the grocery store without worrying if another suicide bomber will show up. The freedoms we have here in America are often overlooked and taken for granted. But what I find disturbing is when the American flag is praised more than the cross of Christ, or when the Christian God is adopted into the American mythology – as if God bats clean-up for the US.
Earlier this morning on Twitter I noticed several references to John 8 in celebration of America’s freedom. One was 8:32, but just the last part, “… and the truth will set you free.” The other one was just a couple verses later in 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” I truly believe these statements; that if you come to the Son of God, you will be set free. And absolutely nothing will take that freedom from you. But you don’t have to be in America to experience the freedom Christ offers.
My point is simply that there’s a right and wrong way to look at today. Either we could make God a part of America’s narrative or make America a part of God’s narrative. Either we could abuse our freedom by seeking our own gain or we could use it to honor God by seeking the good of others. As Christ did for us, we could do for those around us.
Enjoy today; celebrate what the sacrifice of countless others has given us. But keep in mind that what God sacrificed was even greater – the example for the rest of us to follow. God has blessed America. And I think it’s now time, as Lou Giglio tweeted, for America to bless, praise, and worship God.