- But does this mean Christian church services should not celebrate the founding of our nation, as we do on Independence Day?
- Does it mean Christians should not observe memorials for servicemen and women who have died in service to America, as we do on Memorial Day?
Kristen wrote an article for our friends at TheGospelCoalition.com called First And Foremost Citizens Of Heaven. An excerpt:
Unfortunately some of the patriotic hymns of the American church contain dangerous teachings, using eschatological language that portrays the United States as the promised New Jerusalem, such as this couplet from “America The Beautiful”:
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
We must not idolize our nation or forget the multinational character of the body of Christ. He has ransomed his church from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Rather than boast in our national pride, let us boast in Christ alone.
After you read the article, let’s think about this:
- do holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day provide a chance to for Christians to worship in the spirit and truth of Pentecost, acknowledging the mysterious providence of God that brings life from death, sweet from bitter, blessings from curses?
“The Blood Of The Martyrs Is The Seed Of The Church” – Tertullian, mid-second century
Jesus gave His life so that we might live, surrendering Himself to the forces of evil who sought to kill Him. And He had told His disciples, “If they persecuted me, they’ll persecute you also.” — John 15:18-20
We see how this played out each time we read The Acts of the Apostles. When the Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost and filled those first believers, it set in motion a chain of events that almost immediately led to the persecution, imprisonment and murder of Christ’s followers.
For hundreds of years, waves of persecution ebbed and flowed. Periods of relative calm followed periods of intense bloodbaths, but throughout these first centuries, Christian martyrs were common. Untold thousands of Christians gave their lives rather than deny Christ. The authorities beheaded some of them, stoned them, fed them to lions and murdered them by many other gruesome, cruel means.
But something strange happened. God added new people to the Church faster than the authorities could kill them. The Church grew by leaps and bounds, as Christ had foretold in the parable of the mustard seed (Luke 13:18-19). And even more amazing, many spectators became Christians after seeing the grace of Christ at work in Christian martyrs, just before their deaths.
In this fallen world, God’s grace is in effect when we see life from death, freedom from sacrifice. We see it in the deaths of our own soldiers, as well as police officers, firemen and women and others who die while having put themselves in harm’s way for us. We see it in the martyrdom of the saints. And we see it in an infinitely greater degree in Christ’s death for our sin on the cross.
While our allegiance is to Christ, remember that we are Americans by His plan. We enjoy the benefits of citizenship that others died in battle to secure and preserve. This is real sacrifice. We should cherish it and celebrate it on Independence Day, and mourn it on Memorial Day with fellow Americans whose family members and close friends paid that price.
At the same time, Pentecost reminds us of the blood of the martyrs. They are important to us because they are important to God:
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.– Revelation 6:9-11
And finally, we remember that the birth of the Church began with a sacrifice – the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross for our sin. He alone paid the ultimate price. We honor our dead, but we reserve ultimate honor for the One who defeated death, and secured our eternal freedom.
“… we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” — Galatians 4:3-6
Thank you for reading our post. You can download our 4-song worship album “The Whole Big Story” for free in the top-right sidebar of this website. We’ve also heard from many churches who have enjoyed leading these songs in worship services. If you’d like to do so, download free chord sheets from the “Gilles Music” tab at the top of this page. And you can subscribe to this blog for free by clicking the RSS icon or signing up via email in the right-hand sidebar.
– Bobby & Kristen
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