On Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! I am proud to be an American and so very thankful for the freedom we experience in the United States. 

 

I have seen many articles or posts reminding Christians that we are citizens of heaven and worldly allegiance has no place in our hearts and minds. I disagree. Yes, as a follower of Christ my ultimate citizenship is in heaven and I truly believe that all humans are created equal and have intrinsic value because they are created in the image of Christ. Being a Christian and obeying God’s law will always have a higher priority than national patriotism or allegiance. But that does not mean that we cannot support our nation and identify with our physical location.

In my opinion, saying that being a Christian means that you cannot celebrate being American is similar to the argument for people being color blind. I do not want people to be color blind, I want people to see the beauty in all people groups and skin tones. I want people to see me as Asian and to understand how that has shaped me. I do not put my hope and trust in the United States of America, but I am so very thankful that I grew up here and was able to hear about Jesus every day from multiple avenues to build and strengthen my faith. So many other countries do not have that luxury and if I had grown up in South Korea then I would not have heard the gospel until a much older age (I know this from correspondence with my birth family and their religious experience). I believe I can be a Christian who keeps eternity in mind while celebrating the founding of this country, which allowed the opportunity for me to become a Christian in the first place.

This is a difficult query and I have wrestled with it (and do not have definitive answers). I think some clarifications need to be made regarding celebrating Independence Day.

  1. God can and will speak to any heart. Creation bears witness to His majesty and truth, so God can make Himself known to people all over the world- certainly not just in America. But this does not mean we should take for granted the blessing it is to live in a country where teaching and preaching the gospel is legal and readily available. 
  2. Even though there are a lot of issues with our country socially and politically, we can take pride in the progress we have made and do our part to ensure our freedom continues to grow and expand, in accordance with God’s truth. 
  3. On that note, being thankful for freedom does not mean there is not work to do. Just because we do not (and cannot, as this world will remain fallen until Jesus returns) live in a perfect world does not mean that we cannot be grateful for and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy that so many in our world do not. 
  4. Being proud to be an American does not mean thinking lesser of other nationalities. I have traveled to at least eight other countries and appreciated their cultures and traditions. Just as being ethnically Korean is part of my heritage, having American nationality is part of my story. It has greatly shaped who I am and I am not ashamed of that. It is a great privilege to have grown up in the United States (especially as I was not born here) and I am grateful for it.
  5. Our ultimate freedom comes through salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Any freedoms we experience in this world are just extra. Freedom in this world is fleeting- it can be taken by men, it can be destroyed by forces of nature, or it can be diminished by persecution. But the freedom that comes from Christ is eternal and lasting and nothing can separate us from His great love.

This is surely not an all-inclusive list and does even begin to scratch the surface of patriotism or eternal citizenship, but I believe I can be living with eternity in mind AND be proud to be an American. May God continue to bless America and may we individually and corporately turn back to our first love and be saved.

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