I am so grateful to be living in a free country. I am thankful that I can worship freely, and have the freedom to express myself. It is wonderful, and I’m glad that we have a whole day to celebrate as a nation. But the way some churches have come to celebrate independence day is almost sickening. When did our nation’s day of celebrating independence become more celebrated within the church than Easter, the day our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rose from the grave, defeating death once and for all and bringing a new Kingdom to reign upon the earth?
I’m an independent person. You all that know me well know that. And so these words I’m writing are words that come from the experience of falling into the trap of thinking I can pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and control my own destiny. It’s because it is such a tendency of mine to fall into this dangerous level of independence that I feel like we would do well to rediscover what the Bible has to say about all this.
When’s the last day we as a church celebrated our dependence on God as much as we do our independence as a nation? Many of us sang songs yesterday in church asking God to bless our nation, or something along those lines. But when did we last ask forgiveness for the way we’ve squandered so much wealth in the face of so much devastating poverty across the world? Many of us heard sermons where the pastor proclaimed that we need to reclaim America for Jesus, but when did we last ask the Lord to help us be a people marked by Jesus’ radical 70x7 forgiveness, his individual concern and compassion for others, and his redemptive love that offers people a new way to live in the present, not just a ticket to a far-away heaven?
The Lord works through His people, and always will. He’s chosen the Church as his vessel, with the power of his Holy Spirit, to be the tangible presentation of the Gospel. Jesus over and over again throughout the Gospels proclaims that He’s brining a new Kingdom to the earth. And Easter is the climax of what it all means, that yes, indeed, a new Kingdom has come to the earth, and that death really has been defeated.
Like many other aspects of faith, it’s too simple to say that we’re either dependent or independent creatures. Hundreds of years of theological debate prove that much. But one thing is for certain, if we call on the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we place lordship of our lives in His control. And I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest things for me each day is giving up the control that I so desperately want to have and placing my faith and trust and hope in the God who lives and breaths and moves. I am a pro at making my own decisions, steering the rudder of my ship into chaos and stupidity. And I need to be reminded more often than not that I serve a God who most of all wants my heart, wants my obedience, and wants my life, so that he can take and breathe into it the life and hope and purpose that He has for me. A purpose that involves daily submission to Him. A choice. I need to be reminded of my dependence on Jesus.