July 4th – Independence Day – will always be one of my favorite holidays. I can’t help it. As George M. Cohan wrote in his famous song, “I’m a Yankee doodle dandy, a Yankee doodle do or die…born on the fourth of July.” If I wasn’t born waving an American flag, I’m pretty sure my dad handed me one soon afterward.
Independence Day is a lot more than fireworks (although I enjoy them) and wearing shirts adorned with American flags (although I have some and wear them). It’s a day to celebrate freedom and liberty, and all they entail. Our nation has championed freedom like none other.
But it’s a funny thing, freedom. Of late we have seem to taken rights, privileges and entitlements and mashed them all together. I’m pretty certain the founding fathers never envisioned some of the “rights” and freedoms we’ve collectively embraced as a society.
At the same time, other freedoms have been curtailed. Like speech – free, it seems, only if what you have to say fits political correctness parameters. And religion – free only if it’s kept utterly private, not permitted to overflow into one’s public life and actions. Speak up about what you believe – as least if it relates to the Bible – and there’s hell to pay.
I’m all for the idea that all men (and women and children) are created equal, endowed by their Creator (can we say that anymore?) with certain unalienable rights. Everyone should enjoy the fruits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The “American way,” however, used to mean that to find happiness, you worked for it. Why should that be different today? In some quarters today, freedom and entitlement have become synonymous.
Makes me wonder about the future of freedom.
But in pondering this elusive notion of freedom, I’m also reminded of a freedom that’s not in jeopardy, that wasn’t established by our Constitution – or any nation’s constitution, for that matter. It wasn’t decreed by an august legislative body. This freedom is offered in, of all places, the Bible. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” Galatians 5:1 tells us. The next verse elaborates, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.”
This “slavery” has nothing to do with the issues that erupted into the Civil War, when black Americans were considered nothing more than property to slave owners. The slavery viewed in the biblical passage concerns bondage to sin – rebellion against God and separation from Him.
Romans 6:1-7 explains by virtue of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, “our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
Put in every day terms, this means we can’t use the excuse, “The devil made me do it!” The devil might suggest something, and we might agree the idea sounds good, but we don’t have to do it. Followers of Jesus are forever freed from sin’s power and domination.
Hard to believe? Yes, but that’s what the Scriptures declare.
So as we ponder Independence Day’s heritage and hope, remember that disciples of Christ have an independence day of their own. But instead of a flag, its symbol is a cross. A cross that announces, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.