The following is excerpted from a previous July 4th reflection:
When it comes to America’s sovereignty, freedom has never been free. Dating back to the Revolutionary War right up until our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 1.3 million Americans have died in combat. It’s important to remember that each of these deaths is not an isolated incident; no man is an island. When a soldier falls, life within a family unit is irrevocably and permanently changed. Those deaths represent a lot of tears over the course of 235 years.
Yes, freedom in the U.S.A. has come at a very, very steep price. Nothing can compare with sacrificing one’s life in the service of one’s country.
Although to a much lesser degree, personal independence has always been expensive. Any teenager or newly minted graduate who has to write his first rent check or pay her first insurance bill will attest to that. The rising rate of boomerang kids — those who leave home but return to live with mom and dad into and during adulthood — also illustrates that for many, independent living is sometimes not worth the rate of return.
But I wonder if the very definitions of freedom and independence have been corrupted. And if so, how does that potentially alter the way we view the magnificence and miracle of July 4th?
Just because we’re free to be selfish, inconsiderate or indifferent doesn’t mean we’re liberated from the moral obligation to be just the opposite, does it?
We hear and read a lot about the freedom of choice, whether it’s abortion or physician-assisted suicide. Yet, we know that despite the opinions of seven justices in 1973, God does not give us the right to take innocent life.
Many of us came of age during the revolution of the 1960s, when many (not all) openly advocated for liberation from many of the cultural norms involving sex and drugs. Forty-plus years later, we’re still reeling from the effects of those newly exercised freedoms.
Any husband or wife has the freedom to walk away from a marriage or sabotage the one they are in. Sadly, many do just that — which is why millions of children will be celebrating July 4th this year without a mother or father in the home. Parents have the freedom to cheat or divorce — but do they have the moral obligation not to? Of course they do.
What gives? Is freedom not all that it’s cracked up to be? Is independence overrated?
But freedom and independence come at a steep price. Freedom is not only not free, but it’s often more difficult to manage than tyranny.
The late radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say that self-government won’t work without self-discipline. He was right. Until we can learn to control ourselves and our impulses, why should we expect others to do the same?
One of the best ways we can serve the Lord is by being the very best citizens of our great country. Managing our own tempers and emotions is a good place to start. But ultimately, true freedom, independence and liberty are only found in Jesus Christ. He is the only true Prince whom I can trust to liberate me from the tyrants of our day.
And so on the very day we celebrate the anniversary of our independence, we would be wise to also celebrate our dependence on the great God of the universe. Amen?
Happy Birthday, America!