I’ve always loved the 4th of July. When I was young, it was mostly about fireworks, though even then I had a knowledge that we were celebrating something truly special. You remember hearing the snaps from people when you told them not to do something, “Hey, it’s a free country!” Did we ever really think about what that meant? I didn’t. I knew it was a good thing that we lived in a free country, but couldn’t necessarily tell you what a free country was, or why it was so novel.
Today I know a little better what this holiday is all about. After learning more about the founding fathers, what they dreamed for this country, what they risked and sacrificed, and why, it becomes clear that America is very much worth celebrating. Despite what some would have you believe, many of the nation’s framers were devout Christians. Even those who had not accepted Christ as Lord were more than ok with the idea of God at the center of public life and public policy. As our pastor pointed out on Sunday, at the heart of the Declaration of Independence is its last line, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” How did the 56 signers say they would back up what they were declaring? By trusting in Almighty God. They wouldn’t even think of doing what they did, if they did not believe in God’s protection.
As I’ve studied history and seen the horrors that accompany governments with too much power and governments with no room for God, I understand more fully the blessings we enjoy here in America. And I will say that as I see my freedoms eroded by people who neither understand nor care to know the reasons the country began and became as great as she did, I strangely gain a new appreciation for them. Rather than get depressed (though that happens on occasion as well), I give thanks to God for the wondrous blessings of liberty He’s given me. And I realize, what I’ve experienced living in America cannot begin to compare to the freedom I have in Christ. As good as freedom from physical tyranny is, freedom from sin’s curse is infinitely better. You see, when a person accepts Jesus as their Lord, and repents of their sin, turning away from it, they receive the ultimate pardon. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Romans 6:23. Talk about freedom! The heavy load of paying the debt caused by your sin can be lifted from your shoulders by Jesus himself. He’s the only one who can do it, and his work on your behalf is forever.
“if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”
So as you celebrate independence today, I encourage you to declare your own dependence, as the founding fathers did, on God.