Tomorrow we celebrate our independence. In June 1776, representatives from the 13 colonies met as the Continental Congress in order to consider our nation’s options. On July 2nd, they voted for independence from Great Britain. And two days later on the fourth, they formally adopted the Declaration of Independence.
For some 241 years, American citizens have celebrated that precious independence with much fervor. We are proud of our citizenship. We take it serious. We honor those who have died defending it. It is a big deal to us! And it should be.
But this year in particular, I am struck by the dichotomy of my two citizenships. On the one hand, I am a flag waving American. I am the daughter of a brave military hero. I cherish my USA passport and the freedoms it represents.
But on the other hand, when I put my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, I became a citizen of heaven (Col. 3:1 and Eph. 2:6). And as that citizen, I have a different set of priorities. I am enjoined to let peace rule in my heart (Col. 3:15). I am asked to live in unity with all those around me. I am encouraged to forgive wrongs done and serve others with a tender heart.
The expectations that are most often associated with our American citizenship are so different than those associated with our heavenly citizenship. We are God’s kids first.
But lately, I am not sure my brothers and sisters in Christ have taken that order to heart. There is a whole lot of flag waving being done in God’s name and occasionally it obscures our view of the cross.
Maybe this 4th of July we ought to pause a bit and make sure our allegiance is in proper order. Christ first. Others next. We need to remember that we are not really citizens of this world. As Americans, as much as we cherish our citizenship, we are not home yet.
That thought reminds me of that great war horse, the unicorn, Jewel in C. S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle.” Jewel is the best friend of the Narnian King Tirian. They have survived many a battle together. And at the end of the grand story, Jewel declares:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!
I think this week is a good time for some perspective. As much you and I cherish our American citizenship, we need to remember that it is temporary. One day we will go HOME. Heaven, life with Christ for all eternity will be so much better than what we have now. We can treasure our American “gifts” but let’s be sure that we see them in a proper light.
I am proud to be an American. But I am eternally grateful to be a Christian.