Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Declaration of...(In)Dependence

General George Washington, on his knees, desperate for God
I LOVE America!  I'm serious.  #Loveit

On the 4th of July, it's good to celebrate what we have in America - A Grand Experiment in Freedom!  I’m proud of our history, including how our nation has self-corrected away from terrible injustice.  For example, we moved from days where black men and women could be owned as property to a glorious day where a man whose ancestors were born in Africa is the duly elected president of the United States!  That’s a successful experiment in Freedom!

America is great because America is good.  Not sinless, not perfect, with several black eyes along the way, but she has been an enormous force for good in the world.  It's very fashionable to bash America, both within our own borders and abroad, but a cursory review of the broad strokes of history reveal a self-sacrificing nation that has championed freedom here and around the globe and spent our own blood and treasure not to conquer enemies and take over nations in empire building, but to free people from tyranny so they can have their own experiment in self-government.  (We don't rule over Japan, Germany, or Italy who we and our allies defeated in WWII, nor over Russia's empire toppled in the Cold War, etc.)
I'm so proud of America!  
However: America is NOT the savior.
Our theology (theology means how we view and understand God) is NOT to be America-centric.  I don’t think we’re going to be speaking English in Heaven.  We are a blessed nation, and because we have much we are responsible for much…but we are not in control of the world.  
Americans need to remember...let me focus this in a bit: People who follow Jesus in America need to remember that Freedom comes from the mouth of God, and we are DEPENDANT on God.  
The Founders of our Nation realized this.  President Washington appealed to God in his 1st inaugural address, 
"...who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States..."
The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776.  Its final paragraph states this very well...I'll let you read it:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. 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.

Freedom was presented to humanity when God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin and set up a new Kingdom, where God's grace could bring freedom to every human heart.  That's what the Declaration of Indenendance draws from as it delcares, 
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
We, church, are dependent on Divine Providence, the Hand of Almighty God, for our freedom. For our very lives!  Let's celebrate with Joy on July 4th how God has provided political and religious freedom in America and then use our Freedom to be a City on a Hill!  (Jesus said that in Matthew 5, referring to how people should see his followers, the church, as a City on a Hill, giving light to guide people to freedom.)

We say RockOn to that!
What makes this even better is that God is going to finish the story, and it's going to be better than America. Better than any nation ruled by man.  Here is how the Apostle Paul said it, 
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..." Philippians 3:20

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