We ought not let the significance of this Fourth of July holiday pass us by as we spend time with family and friends and watch dazzling fireworks shows – for there was a weighty cost for the freedom that we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.
On July 4, 1776, our founding forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. It took ingenuity, courage, and grueling endurance to fight the King of Great Britain, with his powerful army capable of conquering the newly-formed American colonies. Britain’s governance of the colonies without representation had hindered their growth, and many in the new country longed for freedom from what they called tyranny.
The Declaration of Independence was authored by Thomas Jefferson, with help from Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Robert Livingston. It reads in part:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness … The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
The American Revolutionary War lasted from 1775 to 1783, and an estimated 50,000 Americans lost their lives during the war. The cost for our freedom was grave, and we ought to celebrate the thousands who gave their lives so that we might enjoy freedom in ours.
The Fourth of July is a shadow of a much bigger reality; to be liberated is a desire that God has wired into us. We long for true freedom–from that of our own sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on our behalf – enduring the wrath of God for our sake – so that we might be forgiven and freed from the bondage of sin. If we trust in Christ’s act of love, grace, and justice on the cross at Calvary for our salvation, we are freed indeed.
Ephesians 2:1-7 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (English Standard Version).
The cost of true freedom was the wrath-absorbing death of the perfect and only Son of God. Isaiah 53:3-6 says that “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Josh Patterson, a staff member of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas, writes in reflection of this national holiday: “Don’t cheapen this Independence Day by simply making it about burgers and beer. Dare to discuss the realities of sacrifice, self-denial and honor. Plant seeds about the cost of freedom in the hearts of your sons and daughters. Consider how you might use the opportunity to help your children think about the grace we enjoy as a country. Pray for those who do not enjoy the gift of freedom … a taste of the greater freedom that any and all who love and trust in the Lord Jesus experience. The Fourth of July is a springboard into the greater, more significant and global reality of freedom in Christ … A holiday is more than a day off; it is a directed day of purposeful remembrance. Don’t waste this holiday.”
Amen and Amen –if the Son sets us free, we will be free indeed (John 8:36).