Thursday, July 3, 2008

The 5th of July


All week I have asked and been asked, "What are you doing for the 4th of July?" Amidst the preparation for a national holiday, I'm trying to remember that we aren't celebrating a "date". There is nothing about the fourth day in the month of July that is special in and of itself. We, as a nation, celebrate this day as an anniversary of freedom. We celebrate independence from a monarchy, the rule of a nation by an earthly king.
I am very grateful that I live here and am able to raise my children in these United States of America. We are far from being a perfect nation but I would not choose to live anywhere else. I am grateful for the people who took a giant leap of faith and traveled across the ocean to start the country I now call home. I am grateful for the men and women who have lost limb and life defending our freedom. I don't think lightly of the privilege to vote. I am grateful that I am given a voice in the direction this country turns.
But there was something about remembering that it was "Independence Day" and not just the 4th of July that tugged at my heart. I think it is good to be free and independent from an earthly king but I think that it is only half of the answer. Being submitted to and dependent on a heavenly King is the other half. God's heart has always been to govern His people. You would think that we would be eager to be governed by God who describes Himself as, "The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth," (Exodus 34:6). Yet we, both as a nation and individually, have cried out like the children of Israel did in 1 Samuel 8:5-7: "And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."
Are we listening to God's heart as He says this? "They aren't rejecting you Samuel, they are rejecting Me, God Creator over heaven and earth, God giver of Life. God that faithfully loves them. They don't want me to rule over them."
Very often I am the same way. I seek out an earthly king too. I place my own faulty, fleshly self on the throne of my life and ask God to step back. I declare my independence from Him and attempt to fight battles I've no business in and govern a life I've no rightful claim to.
When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior I declared that I was giving up the rights to my life and handing my life over to the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.
How quickly I forget. I don't want to forget though. Yes, I want to remember that I live in this free country. But more so, I want to remember that I am truly free. John 8:36 declares, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Am I free to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want?" No. I am free from sin (my earthly king) and am able to be ruled by my Righteous King.
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in {further} lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:17-23
Yes, our country has had much blood shed for it, to protect it. But not more blood than what was shed by Jesus on the cross of Calvary to free us from the bonds of sin. Tomorrow, July 4th, celebrate whole heartedly the gift of living in a free, independent country. But let us not forget to re-commit ourselves on the 5th of July to being governed by a great and gracious God.

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