As I briefly mentioned in Sunday, civic holidays can be tricky for the church to celebrate. We all obviously know that being an American is not a requirement for being a Christian. And truth be told, Christianity is spreading rapidly all over the world, so the average Christian likely looks very different from what we might expect! With that said, here are some thoughts on how to live out a Christ-centered holiday this week:
- Be thankful, but make sure God is the only thing you worship. I preached on this last year before the election in how we should never pray to the American flag. Instead, we honor it. God alone must be the only thing we should ever worship in life. So yes, have deep gratitude for the freedoms we experience today in America, but never forget that we worship only God. God is the source of our hope and salvation, not any human made object or institution.
- Christians believe in different meanings of words like independence and freedom. It is absolutely fantastic that we enjoy countless freedoms as a culture–the right to voice our opinion, meet to worship, own property, and so on. But as Christians, we should never forget that we are always dependent upon God. We run a big risk when we think we can live independently of him. We depend on God alone for our faith. The same goes for the word freedom. Jesus gives us a freedom much greater than any country could provide–namely the freedom from sin and death and the ability to lead a life grounded in God’s kingdom. With that said, I usually advise people that it is perfectly fine to celebrate the founding of our country, but take words like independence and freedom with a grain of salt when thinking about our identity as Christians.
- Remember that holidays aren’t always the happiest time for many people. Our culture usually assumes that national holidays are only happy times (namely with time off of work!). But this is not the case for everyone. Veterans often continue to suffer the effects of violence and war, so July 4th can be a mix of conflicting emotions for them. Remember to pray for folks dealing with tough situations like that. The same is also true for any loss we’ve experienced. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, gatherings and parties for holidays can be a challenge, especially if that person died within the past year. Perhaps before they passed away, everyone would meet up at grandma’s or grandpa’s house for July 4th. Likewise, holidays like Independence Day can be a whirlwinds of emotions. Be sure to pray for all who might experience grief even during a supposedly joyous holiday. And if you’ve lost someone, know that we at Concord are always praying for you!