Summary: Celebrating the the prize of independence and freedom before the reality is in hand.
This weekend many people are celebrating Independence Day in a variety of ways. Many have taken extra time off from work and are traveling. Some are taking a special opportunity to visit family. Others just stay home and perhaps watch the John Wayne marathon on TV. 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 these wilderness colonies that had struggled to survive and were being choked by rules and unfair burdens by the king of England.
They were pretty specific in the declaration of independence. 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 separation from the rule of a king. Their charges are that the king is not fulfilling his responsibility to be a protector of the people nad worse that he is abusing his distant subjects.
Their declaration was to break free of the strangle 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 this weekend and Monday would not be a holiday. We would be subjects of the queen.
But, We celebrate the ideal of the prize that was worth everything to the men that would sign the document. Something worth risking wealth and even life to gain.
So, what is the Christian comparison?
The scripture we heard this morning is talking about freedom. This passage is about freedom from 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. They used and abused the law as control and power in the name of God.
Paul declares that because of Jesus Christians have 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. They were unwelcome in the Jewish community unless they adhered to the law. This meant big changes for the Gentile men.
It had to be hard to celebrate the freedom that Paul encourages. Because the culture did not understand them and the Jews were angered by them simply because they had different rules.
It was very confusing for them. 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 that you needed to becom a Jew to become a Christian. The pressure was to live under the law as a first concern.
Paul insists that it is not true.
Paul thought that the Law was being required as the means to cover sin, A tool provided by God to offer a substitute to pay for sin against God.
But the people of the day still had the problem of Sin to deal with, the covering the paying a price became something to factor into your budget. Well I expect to sin this much this year so I will need this number and type of animals. To pay off that debt. The peoples lives were not changed by fines and moved on.
Today we may do the same. We see the removal of the law and a discount on getting right with God. We pray for forgiveness and go out and commit the same sins time and time again.
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. It is long and I imagine that it would make an English teacher wince. It sets the stage for the rest of the document, basically saying when things are bad enough people have to take action and force a separation.