As a child, there was nothing that I loved more than holidays, except maybe Disney and the zoo.
The opportunity to celebrate and reflect upon previous historical events always had a special place in my heart, and it still does to this day. With the 4th of July being tomorrow, I can’t help but reflect back to events 242 years ago. It was on this day when the Continental Congress declared the Thirteen Colonies independent from the British Empire, and that they would form The United States of America.
I think of the brave men who spurred the progression of the American Revolution. I remember the men and women who gave their lives in the Civil War, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars. I pray for the men and women who are currently serving and have served in more recent years, and I thank God for their selfless sacrifice.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my blog isn’t a platform to broadcast my political ideologies. Not due to a lack of opinion, for I have deeply rooted beliefs and reasoning for my political stance. Rather, I believe God has a time and place for me to voice my political views — and His New Creation is not the place. However, I will not shy away from the discussion of how significant a role it plays in our lives as followers of Christ.
I wish to speak honestly about an observation I’ve made. I’ve realized that in all our arguing, fighting, and hurtful words as a nation, we have forgotten how many blessings we have received from God. This isn’t a Conservative or Liberal issue, as I have seen advocates of both parties basically post “the end is near, our nation is doomed because of the ______ party” on Facebook.
I’m not saying that we stop being informed citizens that vote according to what God’s Word indicates; if anything, I believe it’s essential for Christians to be informed citizens and to be involved in the democratic process. We must continue to fight for freedom. The problem is when, despite the negative aspects of our nation (depending on your political views, this may look different for different people), we lose perspective on how much freedom we actually do have. In particular, our religious freedom.
If you need evidence of this, then I ask that you look to those whom we often forget: our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Over the past two years, God has drastically opened my heart and eyes to see the severity of events occurring around the world, and a burden for them has been placed on my heart.
Men, women, and children are dragged out of their homes and are murdered by members of extremist groups that have taken matters in their own hands.
Pastors and missionaries are imprisoned by governments — governments which fear the response of its citizens should the Christians be released.
People who, upon becoming a follower of Christ, recognize that they may truly give their lives for Him should they fall into the hands of their enemies.
Yet, we complain. We don’t think twice about the Bible that we carry in our hands as we enter church on Sunday, as missionaries smuggle Bibles across countries’ borders. We don’t remember the children that are killed in their parents’ arms for their faith, while we have the opportunity to give our children a God-centered education. While we openly pray with our friends in restaurants, we don’t think of the men and women who risk imprisonment as they engage in the smallest acts of public evangelism.
Is the United States perfect? No. And for my international readers, is your country without flaws? Of course not. Simply put, no country is. With the martyrdom and persecution that our brothers and sisters bravely face, it helps us realize the pettiness of the things that we argue over and realize how often we take God’s blessings of freedom for granted.
The Bible is clear, we will all face persecution as Christians. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Although it doesn’t make the rejection or the legal battles that we may encounter in the United States easier, we have yet to risk our physical lives on a national level for the Gospel — as so many brothers and sisters do every day.
Please, pray for our Christian family internationally. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3).
Pray for those who wish to harm and hinder Christians’ fruitful service to the Lord. Pray that God will soften their hearts, and that they may understand the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Whether we’re a Democrat or Republican, pro- or anti-Trump, politically minded or preferring to avoid politics, we cannot deny the blessings we have received in the United States. Although no country is perfect, the freedom we experience today is a gift that we cannot take for granted. Use this freedom to help further God’s kingdom. Use it to support our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they’re in our neighborhood or on another continent.
As we spend time with family and friends this 4th of July, may we remember the men and women who have given their lives not only for our political freedom, but also for our religious freedom. May we remember the cost of freedom and be thankful for its place in our lives. Above all, may we remember the eternal freedom from sin that we have in Jesus Christ.