How Christians Should Celebrate the 4th of July Differently

Walking in the tension of being Christians and Americans.

| Photo by Zoritsa Valova — Unsplash.com |

The fireworks pop and flash, the hot dogs sizzle on the grill, and mustard squirts all over my shirt because somehow I forgot to shake it up AGAIN (please tell me I’m not the only one). The family sits around the fire pit in lawn chairs, s’mores in one hand, sparklers in the other. It’s the 4th of July!

July 4th is the holiday remembering the day the 13 American colonies declared their independence from England. Each summer, Americans celebrate this day with food-filled get-togethers, parades, fireworks and wearing any shirt with a semblance of red, white or blue on it. It’s a pretty big celebration here in the states.

As an American, I’ve always loved this holiday. And as a Christian, I’ve been asking this question leading up to it the past few years:

How should I celebrate July 4th?

If you’re an American, you might think this is a bit of an odd question. “How should we celebrate the 4th of July? Like Americans!” you might say. But here’s the thing, I’m not just an American.

In fact, I’m not primarily an American either. As a follower of Jesus, my citizenship first is in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. My allegiance lies with His values, with His family, with His heart for the world, and with His commands.

Along with being primarily a Christian, I’m also an American, along with many of you.

Being a Christian in America means that I can gather with the church freely, that I can speak and work for justice and truth, and that I can share my faith with others. I’m deeply grateful for that freedom, especially in light of the severe persecution my fellow believers face in other countries. I’m also grateful for the sacrifice of those who have protected that freedom, and I believe they should be celebrated and honored, even more so on a day like July 4th.

Alongside my gratitude for those things here in America, I recognize other things about the USA. America is not the kingdom of God, and Americans are not a chosen people. There is injustice; there is oppression; there is division, and there is a long history of deep brokenness in our country.

As you can see, being a Christian and being an American presents a tension that we live in that should push us to seek to understand how to live well as dual citizens.

| Photo by Andrew Knechel — Unsplash.com |

As I’ve sought to understand how we can live well as dual citizens, there are two things I’ve found to be important.

  1. Our citizenship in the Kingdom of God should inform everything about our citizenship as Americans.

As Christian Americans, how we act, talk and engage with others about anything in America has to be informed by our identity as followers of Jesus. This means that patriotism is never our highest call. Our highest call is to walk in wisdom, discernment, compassion, faithfulness and humility as Jesus calls us to. Our allegiance is not to a political party or a set of ideals but to the Person of Jesus and His commands outlined in His Word.

2. We have to honestly confront where our country is broken.

America is a country invented by humans and is deeply broken, mostly because we as humans run it. Many of the American systems we have set up are broken, alongside the brokenness of individual Americans that starts with you and me. We as Christians are called to lean into the brokenness & to listen where we have blindspots. We are called to speak with compassion and truth, and to pursue justice and truth with our actions. Being Christian and American means confronting brokenness and inviting the Spirit to redeem our nation, starting with us.

Today, as we celebrate the day America came into existence, we celebrate both as Christians and as Americans.

We celebrate the valuable and beautiful things about America, as well as those who have sacrificed so much to protect that. And we also have a posture as Americans that is informed by the Bible and the Kingdom of God, not of our state, of our political party, or of our nation.

We celebrate today recognizing that there is beauty in America, and there is also deep brokenness to which we move towards with faith, believing the Lord can and will redeem this nation to Himself.

So, go light some fireworks and grill hamburgers in your ‘Murica’ t-shirt. We can be a grateful & celebratory people today. And in the same breath, we can be a people whose allegiance remains first with Jesus, today and forever more, even when America in all its glory and brokenness is just a memory.

-Rachel

Thank you for reading!

What did you think? If you enjoyed this piece, let me know in the comment section, clapping or highlighting anything you loved! If you have any feedback, questions or would just like to talk, I’d love to connect with you! Feel free to DM me on Instagram (@rachel_madden99), Twitter (@rachel.madden11), or on Facebook! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Rachel Madden

Rachel Madden

expert in laughing at all my own jokes. rookie adult. lover of puns & fun. follower of Jesus.