When I was a child, I loved the 4th of July.
It was like Christmas in July for me.
Not because of the parades or the cookouts. It wasn’t the sparklers or even the fireworks. It certainly wasn’t the independence or freedom we had as Americans (although perhaps it should have been!)
The 4th of July was special because it was the one day the beach became magical for me.
YOU SEE, I GREW UP AS A BEACH BUM
I spent every summer day of my childhood at the beach, starting as a baby.
On summer days of my childhood, my mom would pack up our food for the day and take my sisters, my brother, and I to the beach. We would play our favorite game “Pickle” (If you don’t know this game, ask me about it. It’s simple, yet entertaining), ride boogie boards, and go to “The Rocks”. The Rocks were simply that, rocks. Huge rocks that went out into the ocean. We somewhat carefully climbed on them (some were slippery and I fell more times than I can count!) as we collected hermit crabs in the tide pools that formed among them.
We did this every day of every summer, as long as the weather permitted.
THE 4TH OF JULY BEACH DAY WAS ALWAYS MAGICAL
On the 4th of July, we would stay at the beach late. Waaaaay past our bedtime.
We brought flashlights, sweatshirts, and sweatpants (New England nights were cold!) My friends and I would run under the boardwalk playing tag and manhunt in the dark. When the fireworks were about to begin, my dad would dig a giant hole in the sand. One big enough for at least 8 kids to fit across. We would line it with blankets, climb in, and get cozy as we watched the firework show that lit up the sky over the ocean. We did this every year and this tradition became the highlight of my summers.
THIS FREEDOM IS WORTH CELEBRATING
The 4th of July is a special day in the United States of America. It is the day the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence giving the 13 colonies freedom from Great Britain. It is the birth of our nation. On this day, we remember these famous words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The freedom of our nation is worth celebrating. But there is an even greater freedom. One that cannot come from this world. A true freedom that can only come from Jesus Christ.
TRUE FREEDOM IN CHRIST
In the Bible, we learn about the true freedom we gain in Christ. This is unlike any freedom the world can give.
“Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31-32
“As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God.” 1 Peter 2:16-17
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:13-14
“But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18
In Christ, we are set free. We are set free from sin and death. Not to do what we want. No. We have been set free with a purpose!
To love God, love others, live in God’s abundant grace, and choose to live joyfully.
This is the most amazing gift of freedom we could ever fathom.
HERE IS THE ONE THING WE CAN’T FORGET TO DO THIS 4TH OF JULY
So this 4th of July, we can have cookouts, light fireworks, and celebrate the independence of the United States of America.
BUT we can’t forget to do this one thing.
We can’t forget that TRUE FREEDOM comes from Christ alone. So give thanks. Praise God for the freedom he gives us from sin and death. And praise God that because he first loved us, we can go forth and love others with His abundant grace.
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