Say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?

Several years ago, I gave a short introduction and sang the Star Spangled Banner as a special music in Sunday morning worship. As I was preparing, I remember being struck by the fact that we typically sing only one of the four beautiful, glorious verses of that song. And what’s more, we sing the only verse that ends with the rhetorical question: “O, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave/ o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Interesting, isn’t it?, that our most patriotic song typically ends with so little resolve?

You might say, “Come on, Ben! It’s rhetorical because the answer is so obvious! Why, one only needs look up and see that the flag is indeed still there!” And you’d be right. There is the flag… on the stage at church, at the courthouse, in homes, in businesses and at our capitols. Indeed, that Star Spangled Banner yet waves. But my question is: Does it wave “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Christian, I’m going to speak to you frankly. Are we still the land of the free? Do we even know what true liberty is? If liberty is a right endowed by our Creator, then we must look to Him to define liberty. Freedom and liberty according to the God of the Bible look very different than freedom and liberty according to the secular philosophers of our day. God’s liberty is freedom from the chains of sin; this world’s liberty is licentiousness. God’s liberty is slavery to Christ (which leads to life); the world’s liberty is slavery to sin (which leads to death).

Let’s celebrate true liberty this Independence Day. Let’s celebrate the independence offered us by Christ’s resurrection. As we consider the liberties we have in Christ- grace, mercy, love, forgiveness and purpose- then we will be even more thankful for this nation where we can freely speak about and practice true liberty in Christ’s name. Then we will truly be the Land of the Free!

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