Today is the 4th of July, the day we in the United States celebrate our freedom. Our freedom is certainly worth celebrating, but my reading lately has me thinking about how we view ourselves. Over the past several months I’ve read 3 books having to do with Germany and the Holocaust: The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, and The Death’s Head Chess Club by John Donoghue. I would recommend all of them, but be aware that Donoghue’s book contains many four-letter words.
The question each of these books asks in an unique way is, how could the German people have let this happen? In the case of Bonhoeffer, the question is even more convicting. How could German Christians have let this happen? Is it possible that identity is the answer? For Bonhoeffer, the issue was that Germans were viewing themselves as Germans first and Christians second. They felt that there was a possibility of Germany disappearing after the defeat of World War I and became easy targets for Hitler’s rhetoric proclaiming German supremacy.
I love my country and I’ve traveled enough to be convinced that this is one of the most incredible places to live on the face of planet earth. As a Christian, I am concerned that all the America First rhetoric may lead us down a path we look back at with tremendous regret in the years to come. As followers of Jesus Christ, we place tremendous value on freedom.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 ESV)
Are we Americans first or Christians first. For me, the answer is simple, we must be Christians first. We are citizens in the kingdom of God and more than that we are God’s children. His family knows no national boundary and His kingdom encompasses all the earth.
My prayer is that we would see people around us through God’s eyes. The battle for freedom is never ending. There are millions in our country in bondage to pleasure and materialism. Many of them are in our churches. There are billions around the world in bondage to poverty, political oppression, and false gods. As we celebrate our freedom today may we not forget those who long for the freedom we know, both as a nation and as children of God.