Fireworks and faith.

I love fireworks. I have very fond memories of watching the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on television. As weird as it may sound to watch fireworks on a TV screen, I loved the concert and fanfare of it all, especially when they’d time the pyrotechnics to pulsating pop numbers. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something soul-moving about seeing music and firecrackers expertly synchronized.

I have fond memories, too, of shooting off fireworks as a kid growing up. I’d always eagerly anticipate seeing what assortment of small explosives my brother would purchase to shoot off every July 4th evening. Things didn’t always go as planned for us, though, as we’d try and mimic the “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular” guys with similarly stunning displays of color and gun powder that resulted in hitting our neighbor’s house with Roman Candles. Nothing can touch, however, the legendary fireworks displays at my Uncle Joe’s house, whose attempts at pyrotechnics resulted in a few firecrackers being shot off at the onlookers, one even going off under his mother-in-law’s lawn chair.

Nonetheless, fireworks and Fourth of July go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t really have one without the other. (Unless it’s a Reese’s, then jelly would just ruin it.) This holiday is full of friends and food and laughter. Don’t neglect to celebrate today’s festivities. But as we celebrate our nation’s independence today, don’t forget to celebrate your dependence, too.

I think we can often get deceived by the red, white, and blue and believe that our patriotism makes us more “Christian.” Our spirituality and patriotism have been blended together in a weird cocktail that doesn’t have a lot of gospel in it. As patriotic as this day can be, and rightly so, don’t let your patriotism blind you to the gospel of God’s multinational grace. As great as this country is, it doesn’t have a corner on God’s blessing. And in the end, the whole world is going to be made new in the dazzling gleam of Christ’s love and justice, not just “America the beautiful.”

Don’t mistake your nationalism for Christianity. Your earthly citizenship isn’t what defines you. Your identity is wrapped up in your heavenly citizenship. Which is why, even on a day relegated to championing the glories of liberty and independence, I can champion even louder a truer freedom in my dependence. I love fireworks but my faith is more important.