On July 4, 1776, the continental congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, stating that the United States was a free and independent nation. Two days earlier the congress voted in favor of independence and John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, that July 2 “will be celebrated by succeeding Generations as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” Of course, after congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, America has celebrated that day ever since. John Adams, however, always thought that July 2 should have been the correct day to celebrate and he turned down invitations to speak at 4th of July celebrations. Though Independence Day became a state holiday in many of the states, it wasn't until 1870 that the US Congress made the day a federal holiday. Today, we celebrate with fireworks, barbecues, patriotic music, and get-togethers with family and friends.

Freedom and independence are important. As Americans they run through our blood. As Christians, too, freedom and independence are important. Some of the first immigrants to the United States were people looking for religious freedom, a place where they could practice their beliefs according to their own conscience. But true independence is more than just physical freedom. It involves spiritual freedom: freedom from sin, freedom from guilt, freedom from eternal death. This freedom can only be granted us from one individual: Jesus Christ. In the dialogue that followed the encounter of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). The freedom He offers is so much more than temporary, earthly freedom. It is an eternal freedom that transcends any other kind of freedom. So yes, let's celebrate Independence Day and thank God for the freedom we have in this country, but let's also thank Him for setting us free through the gift of His Son.

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