Today, Independence Day, July 4, 2016, we celebrate the fact that we are a free people. We do not have the tyrannical rule of those who subjugate the people for their own profit. We do not have the fear that our property will be confiscated if we disagree with the sovereign over some issue. We do not have the fear that the government will prevent us from worshiping God according to our own beliefs and the Scripture. Indeed, we don’t even have to give honor to those who guaranteed these freedoms for us.
But on this day, July 4, we stop to celebrate all those who served to give us our freedom. The soldiers who fought in the various wars, World War I and II, the Korean and Viet Nam Conflicts, and a host of other conflicts around the world, both past and present.
We celebrate those who survived the wars and returned to their families, and we remember those who are no longer with us, whether they died on the battlefield or in the subsequent years since their service.
But, freedom without some standard, some constraint, some guideline is really nothing other than anarchy – everyone doing that which seems fitting (and profitable for) themselves.
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Judges 17:6 (KJV)
When we abandon the governing standard, we have undermined the very freedom that allows us to select that standard as our own.
I suggest that Scripture presents the standard that we should follow – the Old Testament Law of God as given to His hand-picked man, Moses, is the standard that shows us how we are to live. It applies to those under the Law in the Old Testament and it applies as an indicator of God’s character to those of us who live in New Testament times, following Christ’s death and resurrection.
Today, it is right that we should honor our flag, our military, our Constitution and our Country. God has blessed America with incredible riches, beauty and power.
However, it is also right that we offer our thanksgiving to God for the country in which we live. The men who founded our Country had incredible vision and were confident that they had been led by the Hand of God in their decisions and focus for the new land.
President George Washington, in his first inaugural address delivered April 30, 1789, stated:
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aides can supply every human defect; that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.
In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow citizens at large, less than either.
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.
Today, let us give thanks for the vision of our Founding Fathers and for the courage of the men and women who forged the way into the land, who established this marvelous country, and who preserved it, some with their lives, for freedom to be upheld and sustained for future generations.
Today, let us also give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who died for our sins so that we could be covered in His righteousness before God the Father Almighty. His death and resurrection grants us freedom not only for the here and now but also for eternity. His sacrifice granted us freedom from spiritual death, from sin, from the power of Satan and from the power of our sinful nature.
Father, we give thanks to You for this day, as we celebrate our Nation’s independence. The song “America the Beautiful” reminds us of your constant blessings on us. Your grace and your mercy have been given to us in full measure, abounding fully to your glory. As we celebrate our independence today, may we be aware of your hand in the workings of our country and, moreover, may we be aware that true freedom comes only from You, and for that we give You thanks.