Friends in Christ,
Well, half of the year has passed. I know this to be a physical reality but psychologically I believe it should just now be Easter. The part of this temporal anomaly that is of most concern to me is that as soon as I turn around twice it will be Christmas. And so, time marches (runs) ever forward. This month our republic celebrates Independence Day.
July 4, 1776 is the date on which many of us mistakenly believe that hostilities began between the Thirteen Colonies and the British. However, open hostilities began in April of 1775 when the British tried to disarm the Massachusetts militia at Concord. It would not be until Cornwallis’ army surrendered in October 1781 to forces led by General George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau that fighting would stop on our continent. What had started as a rebellion by a few Patriots (traitors from the view of the other side of the Atlantic) turned into a worldwide struggle.
Here, we refer to this as the American Revolution (1775–1783) and we often forget that it influenced much more that our own hemisphere. The war involved conflicts in Europe and in India. Armies from the colonies, Great Britian, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the German state of Hesse-Cassel (Hessian) and others fought in bloody battles across the globe
King George called it the Presbyterian Uprising, recognizing the key role Presbyterians and their clergymen played in the fight and more importantly in the theological and moral justifications for the fight. Presbyterian Church government also served as the template for the new republic’s form of government.
Our national aura of rugged independence sometimes works against us. Spiritually, as Christians, we are called not to celebrate our independence but to celebrate our dependence on Christ. It was at the cross that our true battle was fought, and it was at the empty tomb that our foe was vanquished. This is problematic for many in our society. The idea of being dependent on anyone but ourselves is often seen as a mark of weakness. We want to be the one to make it right.
Romans 3:20–30 (ESV)
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
Well, we are weak regardless of our physical or mental strength. All of us fail and without the mercy of God and without the work of Jesus Christ there is no hope for us. The greatest works we can do as individuals or as groups cannot make right what is wrong with us at our very core. The only thing that can make us right is the love of God. The only thing that can keep us right is the love of God. Our true need is in the spiritual realm. Unfortunately, many think that they don’t have to worry about that, those spiritual realities, until the end of life. The problem with that way of thinking is that it assumes that those spiritual matters are just for the hereafter and that there will be a warning when the hereafter is here. The warning does not always come and the hereafter always comes. We need to be ready. We need to be ready not only for the hereafter but for the here and the now. Being right with God not only allows us to enjoy the hereafter with the Lord but, it allows us to truly enjoy all of the now with the Lord and with one another. It allows a unique take on life that is independent from the circumstances of life.
It is my prayer for all of us that on this Independence Day we will all find true independence from the circumstances of life in our dependence on the Lord love and mercy.
Yours in Christ,