or you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. (Galatians 5:13 NRSV)
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, (18) who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. (19) You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of
Egypt. (20) You shall fear the LORD your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. (21) He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. (Deuteronomy 10:17-21 NRSV)
This Fourth of July let’s not only celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence, but also, and more importantly, proclaim our spiritual Declaration of Independence. We have been granted our freedom from sin and death by faith in Christ alone, and are now free to love extravagantly, serve generously and dis- play the fruit of the Spirit radically. Isn’t it about time, then, that we start living our lives as the free Christians we are with the freedoms we have through the grace of God, the sacrifice of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit?
And, as we celebrate our Christian Declaration of Independence this year, also let’s consider this importantreminder from the July 1, 2018, installment of Homiletics magazine, titled, “The Republic for Which It Stands.
“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.
“That’s the last line of the Declaration of Independence, and it shows us two things in particular about the patriots who signed it: they depended on God, and they depended on each other. That last bit sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it – how they depended on each other? How is that independence?
“We’ve slipped into an easy, lazy way of thinking: imagining that the Fourth of July is all about allowing every American to stand alone, as a rugged individual – forgetting that Independence Day is about the independence of a nation, not of a bunch of people looking after their own interests.
“It’s terribly easy, in our contemporary culture, to forget that hard-earned lesson: that we are inevitably dependent. The pioneers on the frontier knew:
+ how, if you had to raise a barn, you couldn’t do it without your neighbors …
+ how, if you fell sick, you could depend upon the people in the next cabin to fetch the doctor … + how you could look across the valley through a snowstorm, and see from the lantern in the
window that you were not alone.
“Today the ideal home in America is different. It’s a big house, set far back from the road, maybe in a gated community. It’s a never-ending quest for the latest gadgets and material goods, to set you apart from yourneighbors. It’s the goal of accumulating so much money that you never have to depend on anyone, ever again.
“How tempting it is to thump ourselves on the chest and proclaim: ‘I’m a self-made person!’ ‘My home is my castle!’ ‘My car is my castle-on-wheels (And God help you if ever you cut me off)!’ ‘You say I hurt you? So, sue me!’
“The founders knew you couldn’t have a declaration of independence without a corresponding declaration of dependence – on God and on their neighbors.”
Sisters and brothers, the same is true for you and me today: We can’t have a declaration of independence without a corresponding declaration of dependence – on God and on our neighbors.
Just a thought … and a powerful one at that!