The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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    Our nation’s history spans 245 years. During that time many significant days and events have taken place. Many of these significant moments are recorded, preserved, or presented in books, pictures, museums, memorial monuments, documentaries, and movies. The event or moment that served as the launching pad for the next 240+ years was the signing of the Declaration of Independence. As a country, we Commemorate our Independence from the British Empire on July 4 each year. More than an annual day of quiet reflection and commemoration, the 4th of July is an opportunity to Celebrate our Independence. This celebration takes different forms. Parades and picnics are frequent. Incredible firework displays occur in many communities. Cookouts with family and friends complete with homemade ice cream and watermelon are special times on the 4th (especially when dad gets to try out the grill he received on Father’s Day).

     In the midst of our Commemorating and Celebrating, perhaps Americans would do well to Calculate the Cost of our Independence. The truth is that freedom is not free. Freedom comes at a tremendous cost. Our freedom is expensive in monetary terms to be sure. Yet, the cost is even greater in terms of the number of war-related deaths experienced in our country as hundreds of thousands of men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy all of the privileges and freedoms that are available in the United States of America. According to some statistical records, approximately 1 million American soldiers have died while defending this country from foreign tyrants and injustices. While we might enjoy singing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,” the reality is that many families were not able to welcome a husband, son, nephew, niece, mother, grandfather, cousin, or father home again because these valiant and committed citizens gave their life in order for us to continue to enjoy freedom. Unfortunately, our citizenry may be less connected to the history of our freedom and the helpers of our freedom today than in the past. For instance, approximately 12% of our nation’s citizens served in the armed forces during World War II. Today, less than 1% of the U.S. population serves in the military. The point is not the percentage of our population serving in the military but rather to point out that fewer and fewer people know someone who is serving in the military currently or is a veteran. The result is citizens who are distant, disengaged, and disconnected from many aspects of our freedom made possible, in part, by courageous and committed military personnel. A wise older gentleman told me years ago, “You can’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been.” Freedom comes at a cost.

     Perhaps a challenge is in order for all of us to Concentrate our Hearts on our Independence through Prayer.  Prayers should be lifted heavenward for our country, the citizens who comprise our nations, our governmental leaders at the local, state, and national levels, our family and community, our churches…and the list continues. When is the last time you prayed for your city, county and country? Are you praying currently for the governing authorities or are you spending time criticizing them for their decisions and actions? We have both the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

     As you commemorate, celebrate, calculate, and concentrate on the 4th of July, please consider the Culmination of our Independence. I suppose many thoughts could be offered regarding the culmination of our freedom in this country. “Continued freedom” might be a simple way to summarize the culmination of the freedoms we enjoy in the U.S. A.  And, while freedom means different things for different folks, the culmination of freedom for Christians is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Having prayed “nevertheless, not my will but thine be done,” Jesus offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross where he prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Freedom is not free. The price that was paid for our sin was Jesus’ life. Through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16), the ultimate freedom of salvation can be realized. For those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, that day or moment was not so much of a declaration of independence but rather a declaration of “in dependence” by acknowledging Jesus as Savior and trusting completely in him (John 1:12, Prov. 3:5-6).

     When we worship, we commemorate and celebrate the freedom that we have through Jesus Christ. When we worship through the Lord’s Supper, we commemorate and calculate the cost of our freedom that comes from Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. When we worship, we concentrate our hearts on our freedom through prayer, preaching, singing, giving, and going. We continue to worship as we share our experience of salvation (the culmination of our independence) with others so that they too might be “in dependence” on Jesus.


     Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the freedoms that I enjoy through the sacrifice of brave men and women who have served our country. More importantly, thank you for the ultimate sacrifice made on my behalf by Jesus Christ. May I live each day “in-dependence” on Him and lead others to experience “in-dependence” through Him also.  Amen.