Today is the 236th birthday of the United States of America, a great experiment in democracy that has endured for more than two centuries. For the past few days, I’ve been pondering what it is I want my kids to know about freedom. So amid the parades, the cookouts, the family and friends and the fireworks, these are the things I want to teach my kids about freedom.
Freedom comes with a price. Your ability to say what you think, vote the way you choose and worship how you want was bought and paid for with someone else’s sacrifice, often with someone else’s blood. From the greens of Concord, Mass., to the shores of Normandy, France, to the sandbox of Afghanistan, men and women have purchased your freedom at the cost of their own lives. Freedom is precious, and it was paid for in blood.
Freedom comes with responsibility. Because our freedom was bought at the cost of someone else’s life, it’s our responsibility to exercise those freedoms responsibly. There are people all over the world who would risk everything to have the freedoms we enjoy, so we must choose to enjoy them responsibly. When we make poor choices and waste opportunities, we are saying that our freedom isn’t worth the price that was paid.
Freedom is precious. Our freedom isn’t guaranteed. It’s something that is priceless and precious, and we should treat it like it is. We shouldn’t take it for granted or waste it. As much as we don’t like to think about it, our freedom isn’t guaranteed.
Freedom requires vigilance. We must be vigilant to protect freedom. Hitler didn’t come to power in Germany overnight. Osama bin Laden didn’t gather a huge following with a snap of his fingers. Threats to freedom come in small increments, one step at a time. If we aren’t vigilant about freedom, it can slip through our fingers.
Freedom is worth fighting for. Standing up for freedom is not just something we should do; it’s something we must do. When we see others struggling for freedom, we should stand with them. When our freedoms are threatened, it’s something we should be proud to stand up and fight for. Whether it’s in the school hallway or in the Middle East, freedom is worth fighting for.
Freedom was God’s idea. God sent Jesus to set us free from sin. Even those who live in countries that aren’t free can find freedom in Christ. No matter what laws we live under, we can always be free from the eternal darkness that is separation from God because Jesus came to set us free.
As you celebrate Independence Day, think about what it is you want your kids to know about freedom and make it part of your celebration – sandwiched between the parade and the watermelon. Because our kids need to know that freedom is important enough not to take it for granted.