Happy 235th Birthday, America. I love the Fourth of July -- the parades, the cookouts, the fireworks, the friends and family. I love the opportunity to teach my kids about the courageous men who had a radical idea called democracy. I enjoy getting the chance to talk about the sacrifice that men and women in our armed forces have made over the centuries so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms that those men in 1776 embraced. As much as I enjoy teaching my kids how lucky they are to live in the United States, with all its freedoms and benefits, the Fourth of July is a great time to talk about the ultimate freedom -- freedom in Christ. We can use today to teach our kids that while freedom to do what we wish is one thing, freedom from sin is a greater blessing.
There are people all over the world today living in countries where their physical freedoms are restricted. Places where you take your life in your own hands if you want to meet with other Christ followers and worship God. Places where simply sharing your faith can get you arrested. Places where it's not safe to walk outside because there's a war going on. Places where no matter how smart you are or how creative, you will never rise above the class into which you were born.
Our kids need to know that places like this exist. When you are born and raised in the United States, it's easy to take your freedoms for granted. Most of us have never had to put our lives on the line to worship God. We've never wondered if the next knock on our door will be the one that takes us to prison. Today, we should be thankful for the countless sacrifices that have made that possible.
- Talk with your kids today about what freedom means. Explain that there are countries where people can only do the things the government tells them they can. Talk about how that means that those people may not be able to leave their homes at certain times. They may not be able to go to church. They may not get to choose what sport they play or what school they go to. Ask your kids how that makes those places different from the United States.
- Explain to your kids that even in situations where people aren't physically free, they can still be find freedom in Christ. Jesus sets us free from sin. Sometimes people think that following Jesus takes away our freedoms because God asks us to live a certain way. However, when we realize just how much Jesus has done for us -- He made the ultimate sacrifice in dying on the cross for us -- we choose to follow Him out of love. Share Galatians 5:1 with your kids: "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." Talk about how Jesus sets us free from our sin. He takes it away and forgets about it. If we keep dwelling on the things that we have done wrong after we have confessed them and been forgiven, then we make ourselves slaves to sin again. Teach your kids to confess their sins and then move forward, so that they can enjoy the freedom that Christ has given them.
- If you go to a parade today, you will probably see a soldier or two. Explain to your kids that Jesus is like those soldiers. Our soldiers sometimes sacrifice their lives so we can have physical freedoms. Jesus sacrificed his life so we can be free from sin. While physical freedoms are wonderful, spiritual freedom allows us to be free even when our physical freedoms are missing.
Celebrate your freedoms today with food, fun and fireworks. In the midst of the celebration, take a moment to thank God for both your physical freedoms and your freedom from sin.