Another Fourth of July has come and gone; millions of Americans celebrated Independence Day with BBQs, parades, and fireworks. We have done this for 243 years. Nearly 2 1/2 centuries have passed since the first celebration of freedom from a tyrannical government that intended to govern with an iron fist of power and keep the Colonies from becoming free and independent. It took a war to secure our freedom, and those who believed in Freedom fought and died to make make sure it would endure.
Freedom is never free.
We honor those who continue to fight and die to preserve not only America’s freedom, but to help other countries find a way to free themselves of deadly dictatorships and socialist and communist regimes.
Also we honor our homeland heroes, firefighters, police, first responders, who with like minds and resolve often risk and give their lives to save others from harm and death.
In America, these people are considered patriots; they deserve honor and recognition.
Patriotism is a manifestation of nationalism; an attitude of putting one’s country in the number one spot on their list of priorities. Generally it is not a bad thing, and can be a virtue, and indeed is expected, especially in an elected leader or a military commander. These days we often hear the media accuse government officials of ‘nationalism’ and that has evolved into ‘white nationalism’ in some circles. They do all they can to make it a bad thing.
We use patriotism to describe many people, depending on their position, their service, or perhaps their accomplishments as a legislator, and inevitably we link it to politics.
But Patriotism does not equal Christianity.
Christians can be, and should be, patriots. Patriots are not always Christians.
Many people in America have long ago accepted the blessings of America as conferred by tradition that has been “inherited” through the years from one generation to the next. It is the illusion of freedom. Too often that illusion neglects responsibility.
President Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Freedom is not inherited save through the fact that a person born in America becomes a citizen with all of the rights and benefits of living in a free republic governed by a democratic form of government. Now people are giving up real Freedom for that illusion which includes having –or being given– a sense of security. Voltaire said “It’s difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” Our strongest chain is the one forged with the idea that we are the masters of our own fate.
Just as being born into American citizenship gives us relational freedom, i.e. being in a free country, so does being born into the Family of God give True Freedom, and that is really the only TRUE freedom.
As much as we love our country, as important as patriotism is, we must never let it displace God in our lives; when we do that, patriotism — our country — becomes an idol. Instead of worshiping the God who can free us from a life enslaved to sin, into which we are all born, we exalt that illusion of freedom.
Remember when President Obama said America is no longer a Christian nation? Many good church-going people threw a hissy fit! How dare he say such a thing? Hasn’t America always been a Christian nation?
Not any more. In the last 40 or 50 years the moral compass of this country has been pointing more toward irreverence for all things good and decent and individual Godlessness. Religious freedom is being attacked now more than ever. American Christians are facing more persecution today than in the last 20 years, and indeed throughout the world.
I believe because of this our ‘free country’ will not last forever. However, spiritual freedom will last for eternity — as does spiritual bondage, unless we are freed from it. And the only way to be freed from spiritual bondage is through asking and receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.
Ron Paul said “…our lives come from our Creator, and our liberty comes from our Creator. It has nothing to do with government granting it.”
Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man may come to the Father but by me.” John14:6
We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). As by one Man (Adam) sin entered into the world along with death by sin, so by one Man (Jesus) we receive reconciliation to God (Romans 5).
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
And thereby we receive True Freedom.