July is here! While I’m personally excited because my birthday is in July (the 14 to be exact), Independence Day is in July as well. For many of us, this means family time, fireworks, and barbeques outside as we pause to remember the founding of the United States.
I am thankful that I was born in the United States, but all throughout God’s Word, I am always reminded of the fact that God’s love transcends national boundaries – all boundaries for that matter – and that we are members of an international community. Paul describes the embracing love of Jesus in Galatians 3. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
I’ve had the chance to travel to several different countries and I’ve been able to encounter a lot of different people – some of whom were Christians, many who were not. In the relationships I’ve built with friends around the world, I’ve learned many things. Laughter transcends culture and language. Pain transcends culture and language. The love of God transcends all things. I went to the country of Jordan in 2009 for an archaeological dig and I had the chance to meet and spend time with a lot of local people, including a fifteen-year-old girl. While at the time I only knew a few Arabic words, and she knew just a couple English phrases, we could share in laughing as we painted each other’s nails, played soccer together, and visited with her family.
I would encourage all of us to think about this as we celebrate the Fourth of July and thank God for the chance to grow up in the United States. As we pray for our own country, let us pray for all of God’s creation around the world. Jesus demonstrated compassion and love for people from different regions and different backgrounds. We can praise God and take joy in the fact that His love is big and the community of believers stretches around the world.