The Fifth of July
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day---the 241st birthday of these United States of America. On July 4, 1776, fifty-six Americans signed the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. It was, for all intents and purposes, an act of treason.
We celebrate the Fourth of July with great fanfare, but no one lights a firecracker or grills a rack of ribs to commemorate the Fifth of July---the day that really mattered for those signers of the Declaration.
You see, the Fifth of July was the day when all of those signers woke up and realized that they had to actually do something about independence. They had made their declaration, but a declaration in and of itself holds very little weight if nothing happens after making it.
I find the same thing to be true about following Jesus. Lots of people make declarations that they are followers of Jesus, but it's what follows those declarations that demonstrates where their heart truly is.
Far too many Christians give lip service to their faith in Christ alone, but then choose to pledge their allegiance to politics, denominations and theology when it comes to living out that faith.
There is a myth that has permeated Christian culture that in order to be a Christian you have to ascribe to a particular political party, belong to the right denomination (or no denomination, as the case may be), read the right books, have the correct theology, and have the right interpretations of Scripture.
But what should follow our declarations of faith in Jesus should be evidence of a life lived according to Jesus' example--to read his words and be transformed by them. We should let all of the superfluous things that tend to follow our declarations fall to the wayside as we run madly after Jesus, stumbling along in his footsteps.
We should do as the Apostle Paul and simply "preach Christ and him crucified."
On this Fifth of July, make the decision to live into your declaration of faith in Jesus--wherever you happen to be in your journey with him right now. May you discover new and abundant life, and freedom like you've never imagined.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.