3 Temptations on the Fourth of July

You could probably think of a dozen ways we'll be tempted on the Fourth of July: to drink too much, to set off illegal fireworks, to eat too many hot dogs (how many is too many?).

But there are other temptations, more serious temptations.

Here are three of them:
  1. The temptation to worship America
  2. The temptation to worship soldiers
  3. The temptation to worship religious freedom
For those of us born and raised in America, we should have a special love for our country.  Honor and respect.  America is a great country, unique in so many ways.  But to take that love of country to that extra step - from patriotism to nationalism - is to take a step too far. 

God's people, as the author of Hebrews said, are always longing for a better country.  In one sense, our citizenship has been transferred.  A deeper loyalty has taken root, deeper than our patriotism.  And we will be challenged.  Will we hold the flag higher than the cross?  Will we treat the cross like just another flag and God the King as just another king?

And if we resist the temptation to worship America, we still have to face the second temptation, to worship soldiers.  Their bravery and courage and sacrifice can and should move us.  Honor and respect.  I have three cousins currently serving in the armed forces and I'm so impressed with them.  But there is a step too far.

Christians do not love war.  We wish it never had to happen.  And we know it has limits.  Our deepest problems in society and global relations won't be solved by soldiers (or pastors or missionaries).  We need God and his work.  Will we continue to look to him?

Lastly, we may be tempted to worship religious freedom.  We have a great privilege in the USA to worship whenever, wherever and whoever we want.  You need not fear to go to church.  And there are places in the world where this freedom is not guaranteed, where Christians live in fear and worship in fear.  We have been privileged and we should be grateful.  Honor and respect.

But religious freedom has also created the perception that religon should be free, option-filled and optional.  We're free, but what will we do with that freedom?

Like most temptations, the temptations presented to us on the Fourth of July have, at their root, good things.  Good things taken too far become idols.  At least, they do for me.

Do you ever struggle with the Fourth of July?

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