July 4th is fast approaching, and with it a quintessential American holiday. In the USA we celebrate a pivotal date in US history, our Declaration of Independence from England in 1776.
Independence Day is a fiercely patriotic day for most Americans, where we both honor and celebrate the sacrifices of those who died to establish this country, and honor the ongoing sacrifices on those who fight on for that freedom today. We watch parades, eat copious amounts of food, and set off miniature explosives called "fireworks", designed to mimic and recall the sights and sounds of the battles fought by both our ancestors and our contemporaries.
I've enjoyed "July 4th" for most of my life, but I am enjoying it less and less these days. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the fellowship and parades and pomp of the day, and the fireworks are exciting and fun, but I'm becoming less and less enamoured with what the day represents.
I love my country. I am blessed, fortunate, and very happy that I and my family were born and live here. I am very proud of my friends and relatives who have served, bled, and some died in the service of this nation.
But I really wish they didn't have to.
The bloodshed and toll in human life that it has taken to hold and defend this rather large plot of land on the North American plain is truly overwhelming when you think about it, not to mention the fights we've fought amongst ourselves and against those who occupied the land prior to the European migration. Many, many, many have died during the construction, expansion, and defense of this country.
I really wish they didn't have to.
I look forward to a time when the bloodshed will end, and the horrors will cease. I look forward to a time when God will reconcile all things to Himself. I look forward to a time when the "war-zone" of a world that we live in will be cleared of combatants, both physical and spiritual, and all will be set at peace under the Lordship of Jesus.
I realize that in this fallen world, where Satan is still the Prince of this Earth, and the sword is still the language with which nations speak, the bloodshed will continue, as it has since the beginning of recorded history. But my prayer, as we approach this American Independence Day (a day which has little meaning other than being a Monday to much of the rest of the world), that those who call Jesus their Lord will take the time to pray, to work, and to serve others in a fashion after God's Kingdom, not after the kingdom of the sword.
To those who would raise a fist, I pray that Kingdom people would respond with a turned cheek and love. To those that would harm us, I pray that Kingdom people would respond with a blessing. To those that would cheat or steal from us, I pray that Kingdom people would respond with generosity. (Luke 6: 17-36)
To the world in general, to people living in the "war-zone" being fought between God and Satan, between demons and angels, and between evil men and the Kingdom of God, I pray that Kingdom people would look and act and love like Jesus, sacrificing and serving and giving His all.
After all, Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that 'You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had:
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.'
I pray for the day when we no longer have to pray for our soldiers that protect us, or for our enemies that would harm us. I long for the day when neither soldiers nor enemies exist, and all is at peace under Jesus.
I pray for a time when we can celebrate not Independence Day, in the sense we know it, but Dependence Day, in the sense God want us to be dependent on Him.
Until then, I pray that all God's people will try to live at Jesus did, to the best of their ability, serving all those we come in contact with, showing God's love to the world.
In the meantime, pass the ketchup for the hot dogs, enjoy the potato chips, and have a wonderful day of fellowship and love, while remembering those who can't be with us due to the ongoing battles of war, both on Earth and in heavenly places.