Today is 4th of July, which means for those of us who are American, that it is the day set aside to celebrate our independence from Britain. July 4th, 1776, we declared our independence from the British crown and then fought to secure that independence.
People were drawn to the Americas for numerous reasons, among them religious freedom. The Mayflower Compact, which was one of the first governing documents written and signed by those fleeing from religious persecution under King James.
It begins, “In the name of God, Amen… Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”
For them, coming to America was inextricably linked with the Glory of God and the advancement of the Gospel upon a new land. They sought to be free from tyranny and live in a place where they could thrive and, God willing, build a land dedicated first to God and then to one another.
Freedom has not been easy for the United States, and it took a significant amount of blood to achieve it. As the blood of the martyrs is said to be the seed of the Church, so the blood of the patriots who gave their lives to plant the tree of liberty here in the United States (as Jefferson so famously said).
More importantly, however, is the One to whom the Mayflower compact was dedicated. He is the One who gives true freedom to us, not through a battle we must wage or through blood we must shed, but through the shedding of His own blood on our behalf. In Christ we have true liberation and true independence from our sin and all the condemnation that is due to us.
I love the 4th of July, and I love being a citizen of the United States. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, unless the Lord calls me there. But above everything, I am not a citizen of this nation ultimately. I am a citizen of a Kingdom that has not yet been fully realized on the earth. I await the day when we will not celebrate national independence, but global independence. I await the day when Christ’s kingdom and His Lordship is fully realized and fully supported by every tongue and tribe and nation. Those are the days when the fireworks will be particularly beautiful.