Happy 4th of July, Bellevue Community Church (and lookers on)!
Remember that when the Son sets you free, then you are really free.
My prayer is that you have the grace and peace of family and friends to spend this day off with. We are so thankful for a church that has provided this sense of community for us, and this evening we will be celebrating with a group of close, close friends we met at BCC only 8 months or so ago. God is amazing and so, so good.
On this day, and days like it, it is tempting and somewhat natural for our spiritual heritage to become conflated with our patriotism. Let us never lose sight of the fact that for however great and free our country is, the kingdom of God is not about borders or nations or governments but about the power of God reigning in the hearts of men and women of all races, nationalities, and ethnicities through the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.
Here's some great stuff from John Piper, given in an address at our nation's capital:
More than ever since 9/11, Christians in America, and especially Christians in the U.S. government, should make clear that there is a radical distinction between Christianity, on the one hand, and American culture and the American political system, on the other hand. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, atheists, and all other non-Christians need to know this for Christ's sake.
They need to know that Jesus Christ-crucified for sinners, risen from the dead, and reigning as God from heaven today-was accomplishing his purposes, gathering a people for himself from every culture, and building his church before America ever existed, and will be omnipotently doing the same centuries from now, even if America becomes a footnote in world history. Christianity and American culture are radically distinct. It is possible to be a faithful Christian under any regime in the world-and may be easier to be a radical, cross-bearing disciple of Jesus in regimes less prosperous than America.
We should make that clear over and over in these days.
That said, while "God and Country" can dangerously lead to a misfocused "Jesus plus something," we can and should be thankful that God has shed his grace on America the beautiful. We can and should be grateful for the freedom to live and worship in a culture where we are not risking death every time we go to church or mention Jesus. We can and should be grateful that God empowers and allows men and women to protect us and defend the innocent and pursue justice.
We can and should thank God for the blessings of a free nation. And we must not and should not take this gift for granted.