Flags, Parades, Pride & Freedom

What a difference a month makes.

Our nation’s Memorial Day observance May 31st marked a somber recognition of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for America’s freedoms.

 For generations, military and wartime veterans have laid aside their personal ambitions, aspirations, preferences, inclinations and attractions so their fellow Americans could pursue theirs. Parades for these fallen heroes were held in absentia.

Consequentially and somewhat paradoxical, the month of June is recognized around the world as Pride Month. City streets from New York to Paris will be teeming with parades celebrating, affirming and promoting people who boastfully self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary or whatever sexual proclivity they desire.  “Love is love,” and “Love wins,” they exclaim.

CNN has decreed Pride Month throughout June as the time “when the world’s LGBT communities come together to celebrate the freedom to be themselves.”

Pride flag wavers such as Kellogg’s cereals, Campbell’s soups, Target, Lego, Wells Fargo and Burger King are just a few of the monolithic corporations marching in lockstep to the beat of Hedonism. 

Shows like Rugrats, Blue’s Clues & You, and Arthur are among a growing list of children’s programs indoctrinating young minds with LGBTQ ideology. PBS, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network have joined once family-friendly broadcast networks including Disney and Hallmark on the alphabet rainbow bandwagon.

To accentuate this protracted revelry, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has sanctioned flying the rainbow pride flag on the same pole as the American flag at embassies and consulates around the world. 

Whatever you might think of pairing “Old Glory” with the multi-colored insignia of the modern sexual revolution, such symbolism is an oddly poignant reminder that America’s freedoms aren’t free.

Don’t stare, but “the land of the free and the home of the brave” has become a nation where everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Read the Old Testament Book of Judges to see how that turns out.

Now compare  America’s aforementioned narcissistic self-obsession to how Jesus lived. 

The Apostle Paul provides us a vivid word picture in Philippians 2:6–8 (NASB):

“who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”

This passage blows my mind when I think about how the Creator of Heaven and Earth shrouded His eternal glory in human flesh. Jesus’ baby crib was formerly a feed trough for farm animals. His earthly father, Joseph, and his mother, Mary, endured shameful whispers and accusations of fornication because they had a child out of wedlock. Yet the couple had never been sexually intimate. Instead of an angelic escort blowing trumpets and golden chariots of fire, Jesus came to Earth miraculously through the womb of a virgin. He grew up in a very modest Jewish home and apprenticed with His father, a carpenter. As a teenager, He taught in the Temple while continuing to obey His earthly parents. 

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature as a man, albeit as God in the flesh. He lived, studied, worked and played among sinners, although He never sinned. He knew everyone’s thoughts and motives but judged them not, except for the Jewish religious leaders’ superficial piety. Jesus made the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the mute speak, and brought the dead back to life. He cast out demons, healed lepers and calmed the stormy seas with a command. He turned water into wine and fed thousands with only five loaves and two fish. Don’t forget the leftovers. And yes, He forgave prostitutes, fornicators and adulterers while personally advocating for their redemption and restoration in society (John 4 & Luke 7).

Nevertheless, the only truly innocent and guiltless person to ever walk the planet, Jesus was nailed to a cross between two thieves at Golgotha. Taking your sin and my sin upon Himself, He experienced God’s Holy and righteous judgment on our behalf. And as His Heavenly Father looked away from the scourge of humanity’s sin and depravity, Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 

When you understand that Jesus left Heaven for Earth on a rescue mission for sinners like you and me—not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), then humility and contrition extinguish any notion of pride and self-justification as you turn from your sin and turn to God in sorrowful repentance and thankful, glorifying worship.

Love does ultimately win because “God is love,” (1 John 4:8). But worldly love which glories in its shame and pride is merely a parade on the wide road to destruction. God’s love always involves selfless giving instead of demanding one’s way (John 3:16). Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:3, NASB). At His parade, worshippers shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” (Mark 11:9, NASB). Yet even then, Jesus knew that most of His fans would soon shout, “Crucify Him!”

Don’t miss this—Christ died for you, so you could live for Him. Then you are truly free—no longer a slave to your prideful, lustful, delusional and self-centered thoughts and actions, but free to pursue and experience the abundant life for which God created you (John 10:10). 

“So, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free” (John 8:36, NASB). Now that’s something to celebrate for all eternity.

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