The last two years I have spent the 4th of July at my roommate’s aunt’s house. Everyone dresses in red, white, and blue; her uncle puts on great American records; her aunt makes the best American food; and after the meal we read the Declaration of Independence together. As we’re reading, I always wonder if the people who wrote this document realized how it would drastically alter history, how we would still celebrate the day of its signing over 200 years later. It reminds me that great days in history may not have seemed that way to the people in the midst of them, but simple actions and normal people can have great significance.

This year it was not just July 4th that was on my mind, but also July 9th, the second anniversary of South Sudan’s independence.  Similar to the U.S. after the Revolutionary War, South Sudan is still recovering from the effects of many years of harsh civil war, and for the South Sudanese, the cost of freedom is poignant and personal. It reminds me that though we are 237 years removed from our own nation’s founding, we profit from the sacrifices of normal men and women who valued liberty above their own lives.

I am thankful for another kind of freedom that came at great cost – one event in history that cancelled the debt of men before God and established a new kingdom that will reign forever. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, laid down his life for the forgiveness of sins, and his resurrection is proof of his victory over death.

In Revelation 1 it is written about Christ: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”