Summary: Declaration of independence - declaration of our freedom from the law and death
This weekend many people will be celebrating Independence Day in a variety of ways. Some people travel to see loved ones, and others just stay home with the family. There is a lot of BBQ going on all across the country. There are fireworks, parades and all kinds of celebrations which have become tradition in the US.
We celebrate this holiday because of what happened in 1776.
We celebrate the actions of people we only know about because of books. We celebrate the actions of people that lived without electricity, without regular mail service, without Super Wal-Mart. What a stark existence to be willing to fight for.
We celebrate that these people had the gumption, or gall or courage to break the existing hold of Europe on this wilderness colonies.
What did they want to become independent from? If you read through the document you find oppression, abuse, removal of rights, false justice and punishment. You find a precisely stated set of charges against the king and their justification for independence.
Their declaration was to break free of the strangling hold of a tyrant.
Interestingly we celebrate the day of declaration not the day it was actually achieved. I guess if they had lost their struggle we would not be celebrating at all on Monday. We celebrate the ideal of the prize that was worth so much time energy and lives.
So what is the Christian comparison?
The scripture we heard this morning is talking about freedom. This passage is about Mosaic law. The law is described else ware as being something that helped to identify sin, and how to live a life honorable to God. However, too many people, religious leaders, used the Law as a tool of control. They used it for power and position and separation.
Paul declares freedom from the law. He tells the churches in Galatia that they are called by God through Jesus to be free.
The people of Paul’s day suffered persecution and hardship which increases as they became Christians. The community made it tough to live a new faith. It had to be hard to celebrate the freedom that Paul encourages.
They had already broken from their old traditions. They were trying to figure out the ins and outs of this new faith.
They had lots of questions and pressures to give into and it appears in scripture that one of the most logical was becoming a Jew to become a Christian. The pressure was to live under the law as a first concern. Paul insist that it is not true.
Pal thought that the Law was being retired as the means to cover sin, they still had the problem of Sin to deal with as we still do today.
Hind sight is so good. Today we can look at United States history and find the investment made by people so long ago was worth it. It is great to be free. It is fantastic that I can pretty much do what I want and say what I want.
The first sentence in the Declaration of Independence is a whopper. I know some professors that would object to their sentence structure.
The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (unchangeable) Rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
229 years later we still enjoy the freedom that the Declaration of Independence created for us: life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This is my kind of place. I am so happy that God placed me here. I mean the US, Georgia and especially as your pastor. There are a lot of less comfortable places in this world where there is little or no freedom. Places where life liberty and pursuit of happiness are a pipe dream. For some on this planet the biggest goal is to have life and there is little hope for much else.
However, there are still a few problems even here, I am not complaining mind you. But, we have a lot rules in this country. Traffic laws, home mortgages, traffic lights, seed limits, Income taxes, building codes, lines at the grocery store even the need for money. I could go on and on.
It seems to me that with freedom comes a lot of other things which steel away our freedom.
The freedom we receive is cooperative. It is a union of people to protect God given rights at a cost that is shared by the group. The freedom we enjoy was not obtainable by one or two. In the revolutionary war they fought to make something new.
The freedom we receive has limits that keep us from expressing our freedom at the expense of another.