Here at the start of July many of us will barbeque, spend time with family and friends, and watch an explosion of color in the sky from fireworks. We do this on July 4—Independence Day—to celebrate the freedoms we have in this country.
Of course, our freedoms are great. In the history of the world, ours has been one of the freest countries for Christians to worship God.
But as patriotic as we can be as Americans we must remember that “American” at best is a secondary and mere temporary mark of our identity. We have a much greater citizenship in an infinitely superior country. Hebrews 11:13-16 reminds us that people of faith acknowledge the fact they are “strangers and exiles on the earth” and instead “as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
And Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
As citizens of heaven, we belong first and foremost to a global and eternal kingdom (Revelation 7:9-12, 11:15) and are patriotic and loyal to the one true king, Jesus. After all, in his kingdom we find a freedom worth more than all the freedoms we might have on earth: freedom from sin.
When Jesus spoke with a group of Jews in John 8:31-36 he told them if they keep and follow his word, they will know the truth and the truth will set them free. Looking more towards their physical and national linage and identity as Israel (children of Abraham) they scoffed at Jesus’ words of freedom.
Then Jesus explained to them that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. It doesn’t matter if we live in the freest country in the world or under the most restrictive of governments, we are all born into this world as sinners and therefore slaves to sin and under the brutal dictatorship of sin and death. Yet through the cross Jesus destroyed the power of and our bondage to sin. If we follow him we have an infinite freedom. We go from being slaves to sons who forever remain a part of God’s house.
And if the Son, Jesus, has set you free then you are free indeed.
Again, it doesn’t matter if we live in the freest or most restrictive of countries—true and eternal freedom is found in Jesus alone and no human law can remove such freedom. Belonging to Jesus we have freedom that is much much greater than what any government can guarantee.
So we may take a day to grill hotdogs and shoot fireworks to celebrate our national freedoms here on earth. But let us take every day to celebrate and proclaim the eternal and true freedom we have in Jesus alone!