The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate America’s freedoms and remember its history. While America was never meant to be a theocracy like ancient Israel, it was founded on particular Judeo-Christian ideas about truth, freedom, and justice. Therefore, as we celebrate the Fourth of July, it’s worth looking back at some biblical ideas that have informed America in important ways.
Bible Verses about Freedom
A key part of America’s founding was the idea that human beings should not live in unjust bondage to other human beings. America’s slave history shows how inconsistently that ideal has been followed, but it is still a worthy ideal to pursue. This ideal not only points back to the fact we are God’s valued creations made in His image (Genesis 1:27) but is also a taste of the greater freedom that God desires for everyone: freedom through Jesus (1 Timothy 2:4).
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”—2 Corinthians 3:17
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”—Colossians 1:21-23
Bible Verses about Defending Freedom
It’s not always easy to know the right time to take up arms, and Christians have argued for centuries about what role they should play in military service. However, the Bible does speak about the need to defend one’s nation and oneself, even as Christians strive to live in peace with everyone and love their enemies.
“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge…”—Psalm 144:1-2a
“Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing,’ they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors”; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.’”—Luke 22:35-37
Bible Verses about Helping the Helpless
One of the great blessings built into America’s founding was the promise that people from anywhere—any nation, language, culture—could come and find opportunities on its shores. This promise has not always been delivered upon, a sad fact that we continue to wrestle with. Nevertheless, this promise that the unwanted can receive help and opportunity is something Christians should promote and bring about, for it fits one of the Bible’s core teachings: the least have a special place in God’s heart.
“‘How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. The “gods” know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High.” But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.’
Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.”—Psalm 81:1-8
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”—Proverbs 24:11-12
Bible Verses about the Church Made of Many Nations
We should be proud of the nation we come from and celebrate whatever choices our government makes that honor God. Still, we must remember that we are members of the church, Christ’s Bride. Christ’s Bride transcends nations, governments, and languages, and we find our final identity within it.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”—Matthew 28:19-20
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”—Galatians 3:26-28
Bible Verses about Our Ultimate Allegiance
Not only do we ultimately find our identity in Christ, but we also know we ultimately give our allegiance to him. God’s ways are not the world’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and whether we experience strife with worldly authorities as the first Christians did, we know who we are to follow.
“Then they called [Peter and John] in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”—Acts 4:18-20
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”—1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
A Prayer for the Fourth of July
We take this day to remember the great blessings we have been given. We know how many nations don’t have the particular blessings we receive as Americans—blessings like the freedom to worship and practice our religion openly, and the freedom to pursue higher education regardless of our social status. We thank for you for those blessings and ask that you would guide us to use them better. We are tempted to forget blessings that are familiar. We are tempted to abuse or neglect what we have been given. Break our hearts when we use our blessings poorly. Teach us to mourn the mistake of our past and even the mistakes our predecessors made that created consequences we still live with today. Show us not only how to lament but also how to find healing and pursue better choices. Make us wise people, who know when to celebrate and when to mourn, when to repent and when to call for renewal. As we do these things, we trust that you will lead us to use our nation’s blessings well.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Evgeniya_m
G. Connor Salter is a writer and editor, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing from Taylor University. In 2020, he won First Prize for Best Feature Story in a regional contest by the Colorado Press Association Network. He has contributed over 1,000 articles to various publications, including interviews for Christian Communicator and book reviews for The Evangelical Church Library Association. Find out more about his work here.