This Monday is the 4th of July: a day we celebrate our independence as a country; a day we reflect on the freedoms that we have in this country. I served in the United States Marine Corps years ago and made a commitment to fight for those freedoms.
I am thankful for the freedoms that we are able to experience in this nation: freedoms that many people all over the world don’t get to experience. But it’s good to remember that our freedoms can also create a challenge for us as followers of Christ. And the challenge is to not allow the freedoms we have to keep us from surrendering our lives to the Lord.
As a Recon Marine, we had a little motto: “Never surrender, never give up.” To surrender meant giving up and that’s something Marines see as weakness. But as followers of Jesus, we’re called to surrender our lives to God. We actually give up our rights to follow Him and His will for our lives.
One of the things that I’ve seen our freedom do is cause us to believe that the world revolves around us. We often believe that our freedoms give us the right to do whatever WE want. And the truth is, that might not seem wrong from the view of a non-believer. But as followers of Jesus, we’re called to put others first.
In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul tells us: “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” As I look at all that’s going on in our nation today, I’m not seeing a lot of humility. And most people only seem to care about their own interests.
Freedom is an amazing thing, but we can’t let the freedoms our nation affords us keep us from living the life that God calls us to live. God calls us to a life of love and grace: a life where we put Him and others first; a life that isn’t focused on ourselves, but rather focused on loving and caring for others.
As we celebrate this 4th of July, my prayer is that we remember the freedoms that God has given all of us: freedoms that allow us to love one another; freedoms that allow us to even love our enemies. May we remember His freedoms and surrender to His will and way for our lives.