I (Gabe) wanted to write an opinion piece that would pair well with our fourth of July week. There are many blogs I wanted to write. ('religious leanings of founding fathers,' 'the pagan history of fireworks,' 'how to be missional this fourth of July,' or something along those lines) But, I think the timely word for Christians this 4th of July week 2019 is to consider our concept of independence and reflect on how those concepts might be in line with or contradictory to the Bible.
America's pride is its independence. We took autonomy to a whole new level. What started as independence from Britain morphed into a philosophy of life, and currently, it would seem, that we are reaping the fruits of freedom. The positives of independence as well as the negatives. We are free to do whatever we please. We can build the life we want, and no one can tell us differently. But this means that a weight intended for a community now falls on the shoulders of individuals. This weight has lead to a nation that is plagued by anxiety, the internalization of objective truths and morals, and an inability to handle anyone's viewpoint that is contradictory to our own.
Independence is a type of fountain of youth—one in which you find your self living forever but not wanting to after a while. Comparatively, with independence—we long for freedom, but when we have it (or some form of it), we are left wondering what exactly we are free for.
From a Christian perspective, independence was part of the cause of original sin. In Genesis chapter two, we see humanity desperately wanting to be like God. This desire is a type of independence. Humanities sin leads them to believe they could operate independently of God and fatefully to the concept that they could be God.
This does not mean independence is bad, but rather that it is not an end in itself, that we claim as our right, but it is a gift from God to be stewarded. In light of our independence, we can choose how we use it. We can answer the questions, 'what are we independent from?' & 'what are we independent for?'
What are we independent from?
Scripture tells us that true independence is freedom from satan, sin, and death. These are the enemies of God's people (Eph 6:12). While the fruits of our oppressors are seen in wicked deeds and despicable acts, we shouldn't confuse the fruits for the roots. Or as some have described systemic injustices, we must dismantle the machine upstream to stop the ill-deeds happening downstream. Independence, in this light, leads to a very stark reality that we need to become independent from our sinful nature. To effect any lasting change, our roots must be dealt with. Praise God that Jesus came to deal with our roots.
What are we independent for?
God gives us the answer to this question when he gives us the greatest commandment to love God and love your neighbor. By laying down our independence to God and for the good of our neighbor, we find the answer to the question "what are we independent for?" Paul’s letter to the Galatians lovingly reminds us how we can steward our independence in Christ this 4th of July:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (ESV)
Join us on the podcast as some of these thoughts are fleshed out