When I say, read, or even type the word “independence” in relation to freedom, my chest swells with pride, my shoulders straighten, and I seem to stand just a little bit taller. It’s as if that feeling is encrypted within our DNA as Americans. We wanted better, so we left tyranny and built the greatest nation ever.
“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.” -United States Declaration of Independence
Independence is in our religious heritage too.
“Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only, [Martin] Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences. Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.” (“Martin Luther and the 95 Theses,” History.com)
It’s no wonder why God’s view of independence is so hard to swallow.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'” Matthew 16:24-25
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Humble myself? Deny myself? Submit? Follow? All the words I bolded in those Scriptures seem miles away from personal independence. Because of my natural affront to that line of thinking, it’s easy for me to miss the divine relational promises within those transactions.
“…and he will make your paths straight.”
“…that he may lift you up in due time.”
“…and he [satan] will flee from you.”
“…will find it [life].”
“…you will find rest for your souls.”
I’m working on remembering that God will never let me down because He promises always to hold me up. That is spiritual freedom! Being dependent on God is not a sign of weakness but a powerful relationship that can only come from becoming independent from our former selves.
I love the spirit of this country, and I am so grateful for the men and women who died so I may have the peace and freedom to share thoughts about my faith openly. This July 4th, I will be joining you in the celebration of our American Independence. For the other 364 days, I will be working on my dependence on God.
In His service and at yours.