Independence Day: The day we celebrate our liberation from England and rejoice in the freedoms we have as Americans.
I offer sincere thanks to the many who fought for those freedoms (and those who continue to defend them). As a country, we enjoy parades and fireworks, BBQ, brownies and lemonade — and a day off of work. This is truly a national party. It is worthy of celebration. Yet somehow I can’t help thinking that we’ve somewhat missed the point.
As Christians, we are aware of our previous enslavement to sin, the oppressive bondage in which our fallen nature held us. Jesus shed His blood and won the greatest battle in human history on the cross at Calvary. By His victory, we are set free:
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
— Romans 6:6,7 NIV
As our faith matures, we begin to recognize that our salvation wasn’t God’s exclusive or even ultimate purpose. While He certainly loves us profoundly and desires a relationship with us — so much so that it warranted the unjust death of His Son — this divine act was meant, above all, to bring glory to Himself. This is the doctrine of grace: that even the faith by which we received salvation is a gift from Him. But it is a gift with purpose… that we might then bring glory to God through the works He has appointed to us.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
— Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV (emphasis added)
If we merely celebrate our salvation and stop short of recognizing that it has purpose — to do that which God has ordained for us so to bring Him glory through them — we won’t ever know and worship the heart of our Maker as intimately as we might.
Likewise, as we revel in the freedoms we have as Americans today, we must not consider our liberty an end in itself. We have a responsibility to wield liberty wisely and on behalf of those who don’t have it. [Tweet this.] Political and religious freedom in themselves are not the ultimate purpose for which we have them. They, too, are granted by the favor of God (for no country rises without His aid), and are to be brought before His throne and used for His glory.
We fly the American flag, but He is our banner: Jehovah-Nissi. Today (and every day), as we celebrate our national freedoms, let us also acknowledge our liberation from sin, wrought by the blood of Christ. And may we also be reminded that both were purchased at a price and for a purpose.