Have you ever looked up the word "free" in the dictionary? I guess I never really stopped to think about how many contexts it can be used in. To name a few:
having the legal and political rights of a citizen
not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being
not taken up with commitments or obligations
to relieve or rid of what restrains, confines, restricts, or embarrasses
Someone once told me that the Fourth of July is the greatest holiday of all. Why? Because regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, occupation, or hairstyle, it is something we all have in common. We all share the title "American" and we can celebrate that freedom together regardless of what we bring to the table.
This post was going to have a totally different approach until I really stopped to think about the meaning of the word.
By definition, it is a political right. Something we are all entitled to. You can't take away my freedom and I can't take away yours. It would be anti-American. Un-patriotic.
Sometimes I wonder if we take the idea of freedom and being able to say we're free one step too far.
Because I'm American I deserve to be free.
Deserve? Am I really worthy of freedom?
I don't think so. I am thankful to live in a country that gives me certain freedoms. But, I by no means, am worthy of freedom simply because I exist as a human being.
The Bible has a lot to say about being free, too:
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:22
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 1 Corinthians 9:19
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:25
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Revelation 1:16
Anymore, freedom is demanded and expected. What would a world be like where freedom was received with joy and humility and acted upon in return with love, faithfulness, and righteous living?
I think maybe that's one of the sweet things I'll taste in Heaven. Along with the corn on the cob, of course.
On a different note, I really do love the Fourth of July. I love the big bands, barbeques, and excuse to get everyone together for a backyard game of bocce ball. I love the Yankee Doodle Pops in Des Moines and will never tire of spending the evening lounging with thousands of other Iowans while we clap our hands to patriotic songs.
I love that the Fourth of July gives people the excuse to wear the American flag in any number of ways. There are American flag fingernails and bright sequined vests. There are hats, shoes, and sun dresses to put your little girls in. Old Navy even makes American flag t-shirts that you can put your entire family of seven into for a Sunday at church. Yes, I saw this. And yes, I laughed to myself at the hilarity of their matching ensembles. And, yes, I thought, "I will probably do the same thing someday..."
I love fireworks. Last year we didn't see any and it was like the holiday didn't happen. It came and went, but didn't mean anything because there was no fireworks display to announce its entry. A sad holiday it was. Luckily, this year we made it to three fireworks events. In Oklahoma, fireworks are legal for even everyday civilians (gasp!), and I felt like I was driving through the streets of Mardi Gras as fireworks exploded above our moving car. The rain didn't even phase us, because like I said, it's not the Fourth of July without a good showing of explosives.
I wasn't lying about the rain.
Mostly, though, I love the Fourth of July because it's just another excuse to spend time with family. Rain or shine, it doesn't get much better than that.
But, then again, you're free to draw your own conclusions...