Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Flipside of Fireworks

Disclaimer: This might be my most-hated post. It could be construed as both political and religious (two no-nos). I don’t mean to start an argument, just offer a different way to think about things. Please leave your comments…or delete me from your reader. I’m sensitive, but I can take it.

Independence Day was difficult for me this year – which is probably why my thoughts are finally starting to pull together a good week after the celebration. I love America. I’ve lived in this country and out of it, so believe me when I say that I thoroughly enjoy what is before me in this country – freedom, comfort, relative wealth, a sense of justice (though it’s not always realized), the right to vote, an opportunity to have a voice.

But this year, as July 4 came around, I found my usually celebratory thoughts plagued by the cost with which I have been given these things. Not only have our soldiers given their lives for our way of life, an untold number of souls from other lands have died at our hands, by our weapons, and as a result of our policies. We have run people off of their land, subjugated people for our economic prosperity, and taken advantage of those willing to break the laws for employment.

As I worked through those thoughts – my mix of thankfulness for what I enjoy and sorrow for those who have suffered – another round of thoughts invaded my view of the fireworks:

I have been given religious freedom. As a Christian, I am supposed to be jumping up and down and praising God for that freedom. But, when I really think about it, I feel less thankful, and more relieved. I am relieved because my freedom means I am safe.

There is shame in my relief because thousands of people around the world – who worship the same God I do – are not safe. They are in prison. They are beaten and tortured. They hold secret worship services where it is not safe for them to utter the name of Jesus. They disguise their pre-dinner prayers at restaurants as conversations with “Daddy” so as not to attract the attention of watchful eyes.

And, what really gets me is that they are better off than me. If I really believe what I say I do – what is written in this sacred, mysterious Book – because of their suffering, their joy is greater than mine. Their faith is stronger. Their relationship with God is more intimate.

You see, my freedom comes at a cost to all. It cost the soldiers who fought for it. It cost the lives of those they killed to get it. And, it costs me every day a depth of closeness with God that would only come if I didn’t have it.

Blessed are the persecuted.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

It shouldn't be labeled your "most hated" post. Maybe your "most honest" or your "most heartfelt" ??

I agree with much of what you said ... and with my mom currently living in Kenya (and having witnessed firsthand some of the unadulterated joy that the natives there have in the midst of persecution and struggle) and with us a week away from Delhi --- I get what you're saying about your freedom ... and the celebration of it ... being tainted or tarnished somehow by the lack of hardship and in your freedom to practice your religious choices.

Blessed are the persecuted - yes. But blessed ALSO are those who are meek, merciful and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. You may not feel persecuted, but would you agree that you strive to be meek, merciful, etc.?

I personally celebrated this Independence Day with a bit of a twinge ... as I was surrounded (figuratively) by loads of people who I feel take our freedom for granted.

I digress. I'll hush for now.

I say kudos for posting your heart!