The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love the parades, the fireworks, the cookouts and the general feeling of comaraderie that abounds at Fourth of July events. The Fourth of July reminds us that we are privileged to live in a country where we can speak freely, worship as we wish and live free from the fear of the government sending soldiers to take people away for any reason it chooses.
It's easy to take all of these things for granted, but we need to instill in our children a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to live in a free country. We need to help them understand the sacrifices that were and are still being made so that they can live in freedom. The Fourth of July is a great time to start.
Today, we're going to look at some easy conversations you can have with your kids -- either on the way to the lake or while you're waiting for the parade to start. Tomorrow, we'll look at some fun Fourth of July-themed activities that help kids understand why freedom is important. None of them will take more than a few minutes, but they will add meaning -- both historical and spiritual to your holiday celebrations.
Use these conversation starters to talk with your kids about what freedom is and how it relates both to their everyday life and their walk with Christ.
- Ask your kids what freedom means to them. Talk about what life is like in other countries that don't have the freedoms that we have. Many younger children just assume that everyone in the world lives like we do. They don't realize that there are countries where you can't speak ill of the government or you can't go to church. To value freedom, kids need to know that there are places in the world where people are not free.
- Research some of the laws in other countries like China and Cuba. Talk to your kids about what it would be like to live in those countries. Ask them how they think their lives would be different. Point out how difficult it would be to be a Christian in some of those countries. Talk about times when it might be difficult to be a Christian even in a free country and how we can draw strength from knowing that people are living for Christ in circumstances much more difficult than ours.
- Remind your kids that many people have died so they can be free. Take a moment out of your weekend to remember those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Talk about members of your family who have served in the military. Pray for the men and women currently serving our country and thank God for the sacrifices that they and their families are making for us.
- Share Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" with your kids. Talk about how freedom is not just a concept for countries, but something that applies to our relationship with Christ as well. Christ came to set us free from sin, so we should live as if we are free, not as if we are living in slavery. Too often kids can view Christianity as just a list of rules to follow. You want them to understand that it is a relationship with Christ. We have freedom from sin because Christ died for us. We joyfully follow God's plan for our lives because we love Him. Ask your kids to describe how they think freedom applies to their relationship with Christ.
- If you're going to a fireworks display this weekend, point out to your kids how the fireworks light up the darkness. Talk with them about how the United States is seen as a beacon (or light) of freedom all over the world. For hundreds of years, people have come to the United States seeking freedom from harsh governments, poverty, war and hunger. Tell your kids that just as the United States is a light in the darkness for people seeking freedom, we should be a light for Christ. Share Matthew 5:14-16 with them. It says "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Explain to your kids that we should be a light in the darkness for Christ. Our actions and words should lead people to want a relationship with Christ.
Whatever your plans are for the weekend, enjoy the time with friends and family. Just remember to take a moment or two to remember the reasons we have for celebrating.