Tomorrow is America’s birthday. For some it’s a day to wear red, white, and blue, a day to gather on the picnic blankets and watch the fireworks. It’s a day to celebrate freedom. For others it’s none of those things. Their country has disappointed them. They feel let down. It’s hard to celebrate freedom when you don’t feel free to live.
As a kid I remember watching the fireworks. I gazed at the sky as my eight year old eyes filled with hope and wonder. I believed I really did live in the greatest country in the world. As I grew up I came to discover most people are proud of their roots, their heritage- after all, where we are born is not something any of us have control over. I also came to understand that the greatest country to be in is the one God has you in or called you to.
The awe of American greatness I once had as a child has been replaced with the realization that it is God who is great, He comes first. Whenever I put anything or anyone in place of God, things didn’t go well. I believe that even applies to country.
After all, Jesus came for people, not nations.
Jesus died for our sins, not our rights.
No matter what country you live in, you are free in Christ Jesus. No one can take that freedom away from you- President Trump can’t, a political party can’t, not even ISIS.
A few weeks ago our family went to see Wonder Woman. I must admit, I didn’t know much about the movie going in. I wear a Wonder Woman t-shirt when I run, but that’s about as far as it goes. However, I loved the movie! I particularly loved the WWI history weaved into the storyline. It helped satisfy the realist in me.
More than the beautiful imagery and girl power, I loved the way Diana’s character thought and how her beliefs influenced her actions. She believed her mission was to rescue and help save those who were in need. When there is trouble, you run to the problem, not away from it. When someone is suffering, you go help, no question. The conviction and courage she displayed was powerful and such a great example of how we should live. It’s hard not to be inspired by bravery. Stories like that make me come alive.
Most of the people I know who share genuine love for America do so because of stories of courage, sacrifice, and bravery. Some have loved ones who died for freedom, others know some. When I hear and read those kinds of patriotic stories of courage and bravery, something in me leaps. Those are the examples I could point to that make this country a great place to live. Knowing we have privileges and freedom because of the sacrifice of others- it’s hard not to be proud of that.
But I wonder if we are moved by those stories because they are American stories or if it’s because they are human stories. When we move away from self-centeredness, bravery and courage is something all of us are capable of. We can love the superheroes, but let’s not forget, they don’t exist. (I have to continually remind my kids of that.) Don’t wait for Superman or Wonder Woman to come do what God has called you to do. Ever notice that in all of the superhero stories, the hero is the least selfish, the villain is the most selfish?
No matter our nationality, as Christians, we are the ones called to the battle fields of life. We are the ones with the potential to be heroes- whether that’s in our family, our workplace, or our government. But we don’t do it on our own. It’s God who gives us the strength to become supernatural. Whenever we forget this, we stop being brave and we start being consumed with ourselves. We stop being courageous and start demanding more in return.
So whether you are relishing the celebration tomorrow or reluctant, look for ways to be brave. You just may be the superhero bringing freedom to someone who is suffering today.