This morning I looked up the word independence in my Thompson Chain-Reference Bible index and could not find it. However, I did find the words dependence and freedom. Americans like to consider themselves as a free and independent people. As Christians, we are to consider ourselves dependent of Jesus Christ:
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)
As Americans, we are supposed to be free to worship God as we individually desire. Although, those freedoms are being trampled upon daily, and is a subject for another day, our US Constitution establishes our right to exercise our religion freely. This is one of the benefits of liberty, another word I found in my Bible’s index.
The word liberty often means to many people a freedom without restrictions. This is a misconception both biblically and traditionally in the view of many of our founders. The most famous quote about our country and Constitution comes from our 2nd president, John Adams:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
As American citizens, our liberty comes with both a moral and religious obligation. Our Constitution is based on a self-governing people, and a lack thereof is evident in the current state of our union. America has lost its national moorings.
Additionally, Christians have been given a new liberty, one that frees us from the bondage of sin and the law. However, this liberty is not a license to conduct our lives unworthy of the name Christian. It means we are to serve others:
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)
American Christians should be the best citizens in our nation. We are called to obey the laws, whether we agree with them or not. If we don’t, we should work hard to change them. Civil disobedience is only authorized if the government is requiring godless behavior of us. Both the Apostle Paul and Peter instructed Christians to submit to government with the understanding that the ordinances of man were established to protect society:
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.” (1 Peter 2:13-16)
Both civil and religious liberty come with responsibility. President Adams clearly explains the need for a responsible citizenry. He personally saw the costs of gaining American independence. He son also, as a teenager, saw first-hand its costs and left us this:
“Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” (John Quincy Adams)
The Founders of our American nation sacrificed everything to secure the freedoms we should be celebrating today on Independence Day. The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were fully aware of the risk they were taking, as declared in the last sentence of America’s birth certificate:
“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.”
Even greater was the costs to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ the freedoms we have as heirs to heaven. We are to never allow our freedom in Christ to give us reason to believe we can take His grace and mercy for granted. We are to always be mindful of our responsibility to cherish our liberty:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s birth, let us remember that our freedoms as American citizens are dependent on the sacrifices of those who protect our liberty. As Christians, we must never forget that our freedom in Christ came at the most unimaginable cost to the Creator of the Universe.
May we make good use of both.
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Copyright © 2017 David Jeffers
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