Flag and Eagle

On July 4th—and hopefully every day—we fly our American flags proudly.

We eat ice cream and watch patriotic floats go by at hometown parades. We fire up barbecues, grill burgers and eat watermelon with family and friends. We set off spectacular fireworks and “ooh and aah” as they explode and light up the night sky.

As citizens of the greatest (not perfect) country on earth, we’re celebrating the freedom we enjoy and defend as a constitutional republic—the United States of America.

We’re celebrating our Independence Day—and commemorating the historic signing of our nation’s Declaration of Independence, approved by Congress on July 4th, 1776.

On that day brave patriots and statesmen gathered in Philadelphia to sign the extraordinary document. They boldly declared our separation and independence from Britain and confidently asserted we’d never submit to the rule of another nation.

That’s what the Fourth of July is all about. Celebrating our freedom!

But freedom is never free. It comes with a huge price-tag that requires so much of so many. We’re free because unselfish men and women made the ultimate sacrifice.

What comes to mind when you consider the freedom we enjoy?

Maybe you recall memories. Tell stories. Salute Old Glory. Gaze at Lady Liberty. Say our motto. Perhaps you reflect on what freedom means and what it takes to keep it.

Lady Liberty represents freedom. She stands guard over the harbor of New York City and welcomes people to our shores.  The bronzed inscription on her pedestal reads:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand, mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightening, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Today—we welcome immigrants and strangers to our shores.  We care for the poor, outcast, and homeless on our streets. We influence young patriots in our homes.

We gather as men, women and children to worship God in our churches and synagogues. We sing, study and serve.  We worship freely.

That’s why I don’t take freedom lightly.  So many across the world can’t do what we take for granted—without fear of being jailed, attacked or killed for what they believe.

That’s why I’m thankful for our constitutional rights, religious liberties and personal freedoms. We may not like everything happening in our country today—but we’re still the land of the free and home of the brave!

But most of all—I’m thankful for the spiritual freedom I enjoy as a follower of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. I’m set free in Christ—today, tomorrow and forever. Here’s why:

Over 2,000 years ago—Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples [followers]. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (8:36).

Later, the apostle Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Paul knew he was forgiven, saved and changed by his Savior. He was set free from a life scarred by sin and selfishness. Paul believed the Lord Jesus Christ died and came back to life to rescue and free anyone who trusts him as Savior.

That’s what I believe, too—and that’s also what I’m experiencing today!