Tomorrow is July 4th we will be celebrating our 240th year as a sovereign nation. 240 years ago we told Great Britani that we didn’t want to be a part of their “Union” anymore and thought it was best for us to govern ourselves. For the last 240 years this nation has had its fair share of ups and downs. We saw racism exist for nearly the 1st 100 years of our existence. We saw this nation torn apart during the Civil War. We saw it again be nearly torn apart 100 years later when minorities were still being treated unfairly and we saw them rise up and demand fair and equal treatment during the Civil Right’s movement during the 1960s. But, we have also seen man take flight, walk on the moon, and create computers that now fit inside of a wrist watch. And despite the fact we have once failed to fight for everyone’s freedoms, we seem to be a doing a good job of it now. (Even if I don’t agree with what some of these freedoms mean).
It fascinates me that the very concept of freedom that we latch onto as American citizens was actually described and learned through our bibles. Our founding fathers envisioned a nation that had the freedoms granted unto all mankind by the very God who created us. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and not unbiblical concepts.
God did not create us so that we would die. He created us so that we might live. In fact, Jesus’ own death was so that we might not only have life, but have it abundantly (John 10:10). God does not just want us to live in this world, he wants us to live fully. He wasn’t us to enjoy life. He wants us to enjoy his creation. He wants us to feel like we are alive. No one has the right to take that from you. No one has the right not because our founding fathers fought for it. Not because of some document man signed 240 years ago, but because God once said, “Light there be…” and formed us from the dust of the earth.
Jesus himself died for our freedom; our liberty. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1).” Freedom. I know is a powerful word. It invokes hope, it invokes strength, it encourages. It renews. Of course, Jesus didn’t die to set us free from British oppression or to end slavery here in the states. He died to free us from something much more sinister. He died to free us from the bondage of sin and death, the cruelest taskmasters to ever exist. And as Paul said, he died to give us freedom, for freedom’s sake. But, what does that mean? In the preceding chapter Paul discussed the differences between the bondwoman (Hagar) and the freewoman (Sarah). The free woman gave birth to a free child, Isaac, who in turn received the inheritance of his father Abraham. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, a bondservant, who would be sent away with no inheritance. It seems to me there were too major blessings seen in being free. The 1st was being accepted. For those that have been oppressed because their great-whatever-grandparents were slaves, they longed for that acceptance (and sadly in some circles still need it). They understood that they were not really free. They were not really free until they were drawn closer rather than being rejected. Such it is with God. God drew us closer when Jesus died. God could then accept us as His. The 2nd blessing was that we would receive the inheritance of eternal life.
And finally, we can see that the pursuit of happiness is also a biblical principle. In Matt. 5 we find Christ beginning the greatest sermon ever preached with the Beatitudes. Each of the Beatitudes begins with “Blessed.” In the Greek, to be blessed meant to be happy. Even in our English language we correlate the two. When we count our blessings we number the things that make us happy. When we are happiest we often talk about how blessed we truly are. God wants us to be happy. He want us to pursue that happiness. Solomon even wrote about how we need to enjoy the days of our youth (Ecc. 11:9). But, that did not mean that God wanted us to use that freedom to pursue evil (Ga. 5:13). True happiness as seen in the Beatitudes is found in pursuing a relationship with God.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is what God wants for us. Yes, 240 years ago our founding fathers wanted that for every American citizen. And yes, tomorrow we will celebrate our independence. But, today, is the Lord’s Day. A day to remember that Jesus died to give us freedom. A day to remember that Jesus died to give us happiness. A day to remember that Jesus died to give us life. Yes, for the Christian we celebrate our independence every day.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Celebrating Our Independence Day
Volume 7 Issue 26