To the untrained eye, it may appear that America celebrates pyrotechnics and gluttony every July. Obviously this is only partly true, and while no American actually needs a reason to blow stuff up while eating 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes, the birth of our great nation has been an easy excuse for the last 237 years.
July 4, 1776 - The Continental Congress declares that the 13 American colonies are now independent of the British Empire and will pursue life, liberty and happiness without bothering to check in with King George from here on out. The founders based this revolution on the premise that all men are created equal. Average Americans, by divine law, were not inferior to British royalty and therefore would not be treated as such. Of course, they didn’t really mean it. By “all” they meant some, and by “men” they meant white dudes with land.
Nevertheless, this launched America’s love affair with freedom. It is the single unifying banner under which armies have marched and blue jeans have been sold. Freedom has produced men that defeated the Nazis and men that created “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” The same law that protects what is said from the pulpit allows what is printed in Playboy.
Freedom, it seems, continually brings out the best and worst in us. On one hand, there is no higher calling than to fight oppression, slavery and injustice in the name of freedom. And on the other hand, there is a fine line between freedom and chaos. The exploitation of total freedom eventually leads down a road with no responsibility, no checks and balances and no limits, ironically leading us back to oppression.
Our earthly actions are based on our heavenly assumptions. If God made all men equal, then the laws of the land should reflect that. If, however, God is an evil dictator who does nothing more than place burdens, restrictions and guilt on his people, then He should be dethroned or ignored, and we would do well to invent a morality that seems good to us.
But morals can’t make men free. Constitutions, proclamations and revolutions can’t make men free. It is truth that sets men free. And the truth is that God is a father. Not an absent father who is unaware of our struggles, not a tyrannical father who takes pleasure in abusing His position. He is a caring father, who, in an inexplicable, gracious act of love sacrificed His first-born son in order to ransom His rebellious children. That act - that bloody, gruesome event - is the evidence of how far our father is prepared to go to show His love for us. And it is that event, not a government-sponsored list of personal liberties, which is the source of our happiness.
Jesus was punished that we might be spared. He was found guilty that we might be presented as innocent. He was condemned that we might be set free.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32