The 4th of July. Freedom. Red, white, and blue. Parades, picnics, and parties. Dusk arrives and we gather at the ball field, as children’s eyes fill with wonder as they gaze, open-mouthed, at the dazzling arrays of fireworks lighting up the night sky. We finally return to the neighborhood cul-de-sac with our bags of sparklers, whistlin’ petes, and pop-its.
Our time-honored traditions pay tribute to the ideals of freedom and liberty that characterize our nation. So as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, let’s consider that word, “independence”, from a little different point of view.
We in the USA take great pride in our country’s autonomy and self-sufficiency. Given our history, that’s not surprising. Over a MILLION soldiers have paid the ultimate price to protect America’s shores and defend its sovereignty. In his famous Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln declared, “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
So with resolute independence as a foundation of this nation’s existence, is it any wonder that we carry that mentality across to other areas of our lives? Think about it for a minute. Banks urge us to take advantage of low interest rates so that we can buy a home to call our own, instead of living under a landlord. Extreme weight-loss programs tout their products as quick and easy ways to get dramatic results, claiming we can do it all without the expert guidance of a personal trainer or a fitness coach. Kids (come on, we were all one of them once!) want to grow up as fast as they can, so they can make their own decisions and not have to live by someone else’s “rules”.
However, this human concept of “independence” doesn’t feature prominently in Scripture, but the concept of “in dependence” sure does! We don’t even make it past the second chapter in the Bible before we see that God’s plan for creation was the exact opposite of independence. His exact words were, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). I don’t know about you, but in a world where “social” media is increasingly taking the place of genuine social interaction, and suicides in the USA are at a 30-year high, those words ring truer than ever – “It is not good that we should be alone.”
But more than just creating us to inter-depend on one another, God created us to fully depend on Him. In Isaiah 41:13, He says, “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” Jesus declares in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Psalm 121:3 tells us, “He who keeps you will not slumber.” WOW! While I’m busy trying to do life on my own, independently, the God of all creation — Who never sleeps, Who’s watching over us 24/7, Who went to the cross to sacrifice Himself for me — is telling me time and time again that I can count on Him. He’s never going to let me down. He’s never going to not show up. I can live in dependence on the Lord.
So as we celebrate Independence Day, I’d like to challenge you (if you’re not already doing so) to truly start living in dependence on God. I can’t think of a more appropriate “declaration of in dependence” for this 4th of July than this: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”! (2 Corinthians 3:17)