Over this long July 4th weekend, we celebrate “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” as our national anthem concludes. Having been born on the Fourth of July, being a “Yankee Doodle Dandy” seems my birthright. Watching fireworks, or catching a glimpse of the red, white and blue unfurled against a clear blue sky, never fails to tug at my heartstrings.
One of the things I’m most proud of is our tradition of freedom. Freedom of speech enables us to express what’s on our mind. Freedom of religion allows us the worship – or not worship – as we choose. And freedom of the press empowers the media to write and report as they see fit. I don’t agree with everything people say, or the ways some people worship, or some of the news and commentary in newspapers, magazines, the Internet, TV and radio. But that’s what freedom is about.
This freedom did not come without a cost. Thousands of lives have been sacrificed on battlefields to protect our nation and preserve its freedoms. Men and women sacrificed time, energy, the very sweat of their brows, to provide for their families, teach young minds, explore the mysteries of science, provide civic leadership, and envision ways for making this world a better place.
The U.S.A. is called “the land of opportunity,” deservedly so. History has shown hard work, diligence, determination, creativity and vision will be rewarded. Even though recent years have been difficult economically, we still have the opportunity to pursue our callings, striving to use our unique gifts and abilities to the full – hopefully for the benefit of others.
But when thinking about freedom, we should not forget its source. Recently a TV network chose to edit the words “one nation under God” from a video of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Despite that bow to “political correctness,” the fact remains – a primary impetus for our nation was spiritual. God indeed has blessed America. The question is, do we regard such blessing as a right, an entitlement, or as a gift with which we can bless others?
Those who follow Jesus know He made the ultimate provision for freedom. Galatians 5:1 tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” But interestingly, biblical freedom is equated to a form of slavery – “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).
So as we celebrate another anniversary of the founding of our country and the freedoms it has bestowed, I rejoice even more in the freedom available to me – and to each of His children – through Jesus Christ. To become everything He created us to be!