Repost: Celebrating Dependence

This originally appeared July 4, 2008

I always look forward to the 4th of July. But as I prepared for the festivities today it caused me to think about what independence means for me as a Christian. Though I am very thankful today, and every day, for the freedoms that I have as an American citizen, I am not really a free and autonomous person. Nobody is. We are under the rule of the One who rules the universe. Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” As a Christian, my celebration of independence should be one of gratitude for the men who died so I can have basic liberties, but I also should recognize that I cannot get caught up in the rhetoric of rights. I belong to the Lord first, America second.

Following Christ also means that I have far more in common with the believer in Uganda who doesn’t know any stanzas of “My Country ‘tis of Thee,” than the person who lives next door. Every time I leave the country I am proud to say that I am from America, and very grateful to come back home. And I am so grateful to be here. America is where I live. It’s where I was born. It’s where my family is. But it’s not where I will be forever. My ultimate citizenship is in heaven with King Jesus. I feel so privileged to be here and live in a place where I can read my Bible in the park and not get arrested. But that is a mercy from God, not a basic right that will change my faith if taken away.

As I celebrate Independence Day I will gladly eat hot dogs and watermelon with the rest of my friends. We might even sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” And I will sing proudly because I am a thankful American. But as a Christian I must always remember that I am more defined by dependence than independence.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”—including the land of the free and the home of the brave.