Freedom

Ah, the fourth has come and gone, but every day should be a day of patriotism in the United States. How blessed are we to live in a country that abounds in the essence of life? I believe there is one quality that stands out among the many great qualities America possesses. This is Freedom. The fourth is merely a reminder of what the other 364 days should look like. It’s the embodiment of thankfulness for freedom-true freedom at that-which is the very essence of patriotism. Not only is it thankfulness, it is celebration.

A patriot is simply a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. This is a term I would deem for myself. I believe to have what’s best for America at heart, as do many others. However, my love for this beautiful country and my patriotism are merely a reflection, a shadow of the true patriotism that has been planted deep within my heart.

Can you see it?

America’s best-America’s potential-is a shadow of what Christ is. The one who offers freedom. Don’t get me wrong-America is nowhere near the perfection found in Christ. It is, however, a wonderful portrait of it. America celebrates freedom, and you have reason to celebrate it too, if you’re a Christian.

My little brother and best friend called me a couple of nights ago just to talk. Being gone for an entire summer has been hard for us, but I love hearing what’s been going on in his life. I love being his big brother. We reveled in something we both battle. We both feel lonely sometimes. As I pondered on it, my loneliness has always driven me towards God. That’s a good loneliness-the one my brother and I dip into. However, there is also a poor loneliness, one that is dark. The darkness this loneliness holds comes from captivity, it comes from being a slave- a slave to sin, and a slave to self worship. Do you ever feel lonely? I can tell you, there is freedom. There is a way out. There is true happiness, seeking after you, if only you’ll reach out to it.

As I was reading in my Bible today, Psalm 119 was on my heart.

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless…who seek him with their whole heart…” (119:1-2). As I sat and admired David for his pursuit of the Lord, it hit me. This could be me. Friends, this can be all of us. When the Spirit dwells within us, we are on the road to looking like Jesus. The value of walking blamelessly lies within you and God, not you and others. Of what value is it that others think you are pure? Seek God’s heart and seek true blamelessness, where purity lies within. It is fulfilling. It is lasting. It is good.

Now remember, it is impossible to look at a commandment and do it. When Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself,” remember the first part of the verse. To love your neighbor as yourself-to do any commandment, any exhortation given, one must first seek God, and the goodness will come.

As I said earlier, a patriot is simply a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies. A patriot for the gospel is deeper. Vigorous support is not enough; it is truly giving your life for the cause that makes you a patriot. (Galatians 2:20)

Let me be clear, friends. America does not perfectly emulate the gospel-but has certain qualities that portray certain beauties. Flags come and go, nations fall and nations rise. As much as it bitters my tongue to say it, America’s end will come, but remember friends; it is only a shadow. The true celebration comes at the cross-and that, my friends, will never fade. It is everlasting.

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3 thoughts on “Freedom

  1. Mr. Sikes, while it is clear that you are indeed passionate about this subject nature, I would urge you to preserve in yourself a sense of open-mindedness and caution. I feel that you are not closed-minded, but your diction and syntax can give a reader that impression. For example, your statement that “America celebrates Freedom. So should you, if you’re a Christian” is a bit inflammatory (unnecessarily so) to any individuals reading this article that are not Christians. Can a Jew, a Hindu, a Zoroastrian, an Agnostic, even (dare I say?) a Muslim love Freedom or be a Patriot of the United States of America? What’s more, the wording of that phrase lends a sense of duty to the Christian in question to emulate “America”, not Jesus of Nazareth.

    On a separate note, I would also urge caution from your seeming idealism with the “shadow of what Christ is” imagery. Remember that one of the fundamental freedoms (as perceived by many in this country) is the freedom to be compensated fairly for one’s labor. Bluntly speaking, this is Capitalism. This is seen as a core tenet of The United States of America, but is not one of Christianity, and to align these two in this regard would be a mistake. Remember that Jesus Christ instructed the rich man in Mathew 19: 16-24, Mark 10: 17-25, and Luke 18: 18-25 to give away all of his material possessions to the poor and follow him. This has been interpreted to be an advocacy of Communism of a religious nature (this may not be a correct interpretation, but remember that everyone is free to make their own). Regardless, the man rejects this invitation to live in poverty and instead decides that a life of luxury on Earth is more suited for him. This is the real look at modern America in the sense of luxury, opulence, and self-indulgence. Americans every day earn their wage only for themselves, which is wholly unchristlike. What could be more self-worshipping than the excess to which Americans live their lives every day? Remember that you described in which one can be “a slave to self worship”, and that, I urge you, is really where the United States fits into this picture of moral bondage versus the Freedom offered by Jesus Christ. Please consider that before assuming that everything American is made to emulate the example set by Jesus of Nazareth.

    I see the desired affect that you are reaching for in the sense that you begin your article with an allusion to a recent fondly remembered holiday that celebrates this concept of Patriotism, then refer back to it and expand upon it to fit the Christian message in the end of the article for a profound revelation as to the fact that love of one’s country (albeit entirely The United States here) can be reconciled with love of one’s Deity and the two can compliment each other. With this in mind this is a moving article, but please do not alienate those who are different in their views by using language that can seem condescending and judgmental to them.

    • Ah, I appreciate your great critique. I take it to heart. My intent was to write to Christians, as much of my blog does, but I see your point of view-a correct one at that. I had it in my head that I was writing for Christians, but I realize I write to non-Christians as well. My tone will change. However, I thought I portrayed the idea of imperfect emulation through the picture of a “shadow”–and only in certain areas. I’ll make myself more clear in the edit.

      Concerning the verses aforementioned, although I believe they speak a message of a man who could not let go of a vice; I don’t believe it was solely riches Jesus was speaking of. It was anything that was greater treasure than Jesus himself. I absolutely agree that opulence is America’s vice-and I see how these verses pertain and relate to America in that way. The America I speak of in my blog is not necessarily what America is today-rather the potential of what She could be, what She was meant to be, and what I believe She will be again.

      I will do my best to not alienate and to refine next time. Thanks for your words, and especially your tone.

      • Skyler, I thought what you wrote was well said. Christ is the only one who gives this freedom- the freedom of living in everlasting eternity in the Kingdom of God forever. As a Christian we are called to love others unconditionally, and I see that in you. But also, what makes your message strong is simply the fact that no one comes to the Father except through Christ Jesus.
        Glad I could read your blog and reflect upon it this morning.

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