This nation certainly has its flaws (as does every individual within this nation), but as I reflect on this Fourth of July, I am supremely grateful. Not just for all those who sacrificed comfort, home, and life for our nation, but for the fact that I can worship freely without fear of recrimination. I recently watched a documentary called “Love Costs Everything,” in which the persecution of Christians worldwide was unflinchingly examined by both Christian and secular parties. The persecution of Christians has increased in unbelievable proportions during the last decade, and as of right now, Christians are the most persecuted people group in the world. My brothers and sisters across the globe face torture, rape, bombings, and death every day for the sake of Christ. In America, I have no fear of being martyred for my faith, and I am thankful for this. But I do not believe that many of my persecuted brethren would change places with me. For them, it is an honor to be counted worthy to suffer alongside their savior, Jesus. When talking with his followers, Christ guaranteed that such suffering would occur. In John 15:18-20, Jesus says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” When the disciples were flogged by the Sanhedrin after Jesus’ ascension, they rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for Christ’s name (Acts 5:41).
In America, I am free. Free to worship; free to pursue any career; free to marry or not marry as I choose; free to travel; free to speak out against the very government that protects my rights; free to stand up for the underprivileged or oppressed. I am free. But if those freedoms are one day taken from me, may I be found faithful and worthy to suffer for what I know to be right. May I be willing to suffer and die for the One who suffered and died for me.