On July 4th, 1776, America won the fight for its independence from Britain, and established itself as a nation. Now this day is celebrated as Independence Day, complete with fireworks and BBQ’s.
If you’re patriotic and love everything about America, celebrating our nation is a no-brainer. However, there’s a dark foundation to our nation’s history that never goes away and when you learn about it, there’s no way you can think about America the same way again.
I remember when Lecrae tweeted about July 4th last year, and highlighted what black slaves experienced during the yearly celebration, and the uproar this tweet produced:
My family on July 4th 1776. pic.twitter.com/R9DzWkqDWc
— Lecrae (@lecrae) July 4, 2016
There was a part of me that was frustrated because I wanted to enjoy the day, and not have to think about that, if I’m honest. At the same time, I understood that as inconvenient as it was emotionally and mentally, it was true. I think for many of us, this was our realization as well.
When we learn the facts of history that aren’t taught to us in school or the media, it can be an intense transition for many of us. We have to come to grips with how we’ll process what we once celebrated growing up.
Should we celebrate the 4th of July? We are Americans and we do enjoy the freedoms fought for us in one sense, yet in another sense, freedom is relative to the systemic influence of white supremacy and other negative philosophical influences. I personally feel that we can enjoy Independence Day, but I believe there must be an increased level of awareness and sensitivity to the many injustices that were still in play, in spite of the noble sacrifices offered for freedom.
You may read this and feel this isn’t patriotic, or helpful for that matter. This may seem pointless and divisive, yet I think when we read our Bibles, we have God’s answer to this right in front of us.
Paul warns the Corinthian church of the sin of idolatry in 1 Corinthians 10:11 and says that the story of the nation of Israel, including their punishment, was written for our admonishment. What this basically means is that God didn’t write only positive things about His people like the nations around them did with their accounts of history, but He exposed their wretched sinfulness as an example for all who would come after them.
This is incredibly important for us as Americans. As citizens of this nation, we must not be beholden to the view of American exceptionalism—a view that magnifies America as a virtuous nation. We are the citizens of God’s kingdom, and we should look upon the history of our country with honest scales of judgement, no matter where that leads to.
So as you celebrate Independence Day today with your loved ones, never forget that as much as freedom was fought for, we are all predisposed to the bondage of sin, and it manifested itself nationally as well. Continue to long for the ultimate Independence Day soon to come, it goes by another name. The day of the LORD.