Friday, July 4, 2008

Celebrating Dependence

I always look forward to the 4th of July. But as I prepared for the festivities today it caused me to think about what independence means for me as a Christian. Though I am very thankful today, and every day, for the freedoms that I have as an American citizen, I am not really a free and autonomous person. Nobody is. We are under the rule of the One who rules the universe. Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” As a Christian, my celebration of independence should be one of gratitude for the men who died so I can have basic liberties, but I also should recognize that I cannot get caught up in the rhetoric of rights. I belong to the Lord first, America second.

Following Christ also means that I have far more in common with the believer in Uganda who doesn’t know any stanzas of “My Country ‘tis of Thee,” than the person who lives next door. America is where I live. And I am so grateful to be here. Every time I leave the country I am proud to say that I am from America, and very grateful to come back home. It’s where I live. It’s where I was born. It’s where my family is. But it’s not where I will live forever. I feel so privileged to be here and live in a place where I can read my Bible in the park and not get arrested. But that is a mercy from God, not a basic right that will change my faith if taken away.

As I celebrate Independence Day I will gladly eat hot dogs and watermelon with the rest of my friends. We might even sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” And I will sing proudly because I am a thankful American. But as a Christian I must always remember that I am more defined by dependence than independence.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”—including the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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