Not Celebrating Fourth of July?
I’ve been intrigued by a Fourth of July trend on social media. It goes something like this: “In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, I’m not too excited about celebrating Fourth of July this year.”
In spite of current trends that are admittedly discouraging, let’s put this in perspective.
First Century Christians didn’t think in terms of getting their way in the courts and power centers of the Empire. They thought in terms of survival for another day to serve Jesus in a broken world. As house churches erupted in an affluent but cruel and decadent empire society turned on them with murderous rage. When the message of forgiveness transformed their lives the gospel awakened a radical sense of cultural compassion. Unwilling to participate in unjust power structures and cultic worship of the emperor, believers stood alone and without political shelter. Peter and Paul were martyred under Nero (54-68) and John exiled under Domitian (81-98). To claim the name of Christ in those simple times was to invite vicious, unrelenting persecution.
Nevertheless, they gathered in the name of Jesus and worshiped him by living lives that portrayed the Savior’s message of forgiveness, love, and justice.
One who lived during that tumultuous period helps us grasp the impact of the merciless martyrdom of thousands of these brave men and women. The learned and privileged Tertullian of Carthage witnessed the games where weak Christians were eaten alive by beasts while gladiators killed the more hearty. Amazed that obtuse and despised slave men and little slave girls faced hideous death with such noble courage, he believed in Jesus and became the first Christian writer to write in Latin. His axiom witnessed to the harsh reality that underwrote the explosive growth and vigorous authenticity of the early church: “The blood of the martyr has become the seed of the church.” (c. 200)
Waking Up Christian
Every Christian in the world wakes up every morning as an alien and stranger whose true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Every day we wake up, we know that our first loyalty is to our God (Acts 5:29) who holds us responsible to submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1).
Spend some time reading and meditating on these verses.
Now, think about all the places in the world where Christians wake up. Think about all the places through church history where Christians have faced a day. What kind of struggles did they encounter that you and I, as Americans, will never face?
It’s our sobering historic reality. Though there is a lot wrong with the United States, many priorities and trends we would like to change, there has never been a better place to wake up as a Christian than the United States of America.
The government has never persecuted Christians for our faith.
The government has never limited Christian freedoms to practice our faith.
Still not convinced? Try waking up in another place!
When I was a young Army officer I had the opportunity to visit Berlin during the height of the Cold War. I will never forget passing through “Checkpoint Charlie” into East Berlin. West Berlin looked like Los Angeles. East Berlin still looked like a World War II combat zone. More than that, you could feel the fear of the people.
It occurred to me then how fortunate it was for the people born in the west.
But their fortune was more than mere geography.
Since God forms us in the womb, He also determines where we are born. The blessing of those born west of the wall was obvious.
How about you and me?
Has there ever been a more blessed generation of Christians than us?
Fourth of July Praises
Fourth of July weekend is a great time to stop concentrating on all that is wrong with America and start thanking God for all that it means to wake up to serve Him here!
When was the last time you fell to your knees to thank God for His goodness to you in making you an American?