Wouldn’t one entail the other? Aren’t they essentially the same thing?
|Photo illustration from RGBstock.com by Billy Alexander|
As an American, I am free to live my life essentially as I see fit. That means I’m free. But in that sense, I’ve always been free.
I’ve never lived in a communist dictatorship, so the only governmental context I know is free America. It is hard for me to appreciate the greatness of being free when I have nothing against which to compare it.
However, it was not too very long ago in our nation that many people were Americans, but they were not free. They were in bondage and slavery to their fellow citizens. They were regarded both by people and by law as less than a person. Then, they were freed.
Oh, what freedom must have felt like to those who experienced it after living their lives without it. They could appreciate being free because they had been freed.
This Sunday, congregations in thousands of churches across America will celebrate being free, while basically ignoring their being freed. Sanctuaries will be filled with red, white and blue banners, American flags, and patriotic videos.
Congregations will lift their voices to sing of a grand ol’ flag and stand up when someone sings Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” Emotions will run high and deep. Tears will be shed as members thought of those who died to keep our nation free.
What makes this display wrong is really what will what happens virtually every other week. Those same sanctuaries will no longer look like the members have anything worth celebrating about.
Congregations will mumble through hymns about the grace of God and sit, distracted by the misspelling in the bulletin, while the choir sings “Stand Up for Jesus.” Emotions will be shallow and dry. No tears will be shed as members are asked to think of the One who died to make our souls free.
We celebrate being free in our nation much more than we celebrate being freed from our sin.
Patriotism is not wrong by itself. We should be grateful to the men and women who are and who have fought bravely to ensure the freedoms we have as Americans. We should remember the brilliance of our founding fathers as they crafted a document that still serves as our legal guidance today.
Those things, however, are ultimately good gifts from our great God. Those gifts are not greater than the Giver.
On this day, or any other day, we must not worship America more than God. We must not worship our American lifestyles, the American military, the founders of America, the flag of America, or the American dream more than we worship our God, who rules our entire planet and guides galaxies.
We must not marvel at the bravery and sacrifice of our Armed Forces and ignore those traits personified in Jesus Christ.
We can be brave because He was brave. We can sacrifice because He sacrificed. We can love because He loved. We can be free because He made the way for us to be freed.
So the question remains, are you free or are you freed? You can be an American free to choose the religious path that you desire, while still be enslaved to your sin.
You can be freed from your sin regardless of your nation. Believers in China, Iran, Sudan, India, Cuba and all across the globe can experience the same freedom an American has in Christ.
While we should be thankful to be free, we should be overwhelmed at the thought of being freed.
This is an edited repost.