Saturday, June 28, 2008

Independence Day

As we celebrate Independence Day on Friday I think it’s helpful to take a look at what we are celebrating, why we celebrate it, and where God fits in all this.

If your family is anything like mine, you will run in the local 5K race, rush home to get the kids in the neighborhood tricycle parade, have the in-laws for some BBQ, go swimming, hang out until it gets dark, and sit with our dog during the fireworks trying to convince her that the world is not coming to an end. Not much in there to reflect on why we get the day off.

I love history. Especially early American history. The passion of the people for independence and freedom is inspiring:
  • I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! -Patrick Henry
  • I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country. -Nathan Hale
  • We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin
  • It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible. -George Washington
There seems to be a little difference between independence and freedom. Independence means that, for better or worse, you get to make the rules. The mistakes you get to live with are generally your own. Pre-Independence, the problem was “taxation without representation”. A few hundred years later, we still have taxes: gas taxes, income taxes, estate taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc. but instead of a king in London making the rules, a majority of citizens have decided that such taxes our best for our people. We know that independence isn’t always perfect, but it sure beats the alternative.

Freedom is a little different. Someone can be independent, but not free. The young adult in her early 20s may live by herself and be independent of her parents, but she is not necessarily free. She probably has some sort of debt, a boss, and a landlord. As a country, we may make our own rules, but because of nuclear weapons, disease, oil, etc., I’m not convinced we are totally free.

There is another sort of independence and freedom that matters ultimately and it is another sort altogether. It isn’t represented by a flag, but by a cross and a cup. The flag represents what allows us to worship what is represented by the cross and the cup, but at the end of the day the flag doesn’t offer the things that matter most: forgiveness and salvation.

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