Being born in the United States of America comes with specific privileges, and one of them is the honor, which comes every year on a date known around the world as the Fourth of July, to celebrate the day our country became free and independent. While many countries have such a date in their history, when they overturned the shackles of colonialism or oppression, there are not many which can say their citizens experience the freedom from tyranny that Americans have and continue to enjoy.
I have lived in many countries over the last fifty years. Wherever I was, and no matter what was happening in that specific place, I would stop, with the other Americans in the area, and celebrate. I have gathered with hundreds of Americans — most of them strangers — who were living in a foreign land. Some were service men and women, others were embassy workers, missionaries or just business people. No matter our background or reason for being in that country, we came together as Americans, always with hot dogs and hamburgers, to celebrate the freedom we held so dear.
They were special times, and ones I will never forget. I’ve listened to Ambassadors speak and bring messages from the President. I’ve watched military units present the flag and play the national anthem. Even when security issues raised alarms, we continued to gather. Nothing would stop our freedom from being honored.
I have now been back in the USA almost ten years, and realize that this holiday is easily taken for granted. I’m the first to confess that it does not hold the importance it did when I was living in countries that knew not the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis. I can eat a hamburger every day in America, if I so choose. Pork hot dogs are everywhere to be found. It’s easy to become apathetic to what we have the privilege to hold dear.
The same holds true for our freedom in Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have experienced true freedom that came at a great cost. Just as we can grow complacent about our American freedom, we can grow as indifferent about that which caused the Son of God to leave his throne on our behalf. Enjoying Christian freedom in a free country is a privilege few others know. Many are living under oppressive regimes or controlling families and know only the hope of expressing their faith in complete freedom. They look with longing toward the day when Christ returns.
So, how are you celebrating your freedom days?
If you’re an American, thank the Lord for those who paved the way for the liberties we enjoy and pray for those who continue to serve to keep them intact.
If you’re from other lands, pray for your country, her leaders, her people to continue to work toward the good of all your people.
And, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, pray for those who, while free in Christ, are not able to openly celebrate their faith. Pray for courage and strength to live free indeed no matter the opposition.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:1, 13)
Happy Freedom Day.
Grace and Peace