…July 4, 1776. And so began one of the most important documents that has ever defined this country. Written under the premise that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” the Declaration of Independence is read at many 4th of July celebrations and re-enactors teach us about the founding fathers and the problems and issues that the country faced in those early days.
In fact, other than the Gettysburg Address penned by Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, written in large part by Thomas Jefferson, our third President, is certainly studied more than almost any document in the nation’s history. And Jefferson had the forethought to mention God right up at the top of his Declaration.
Admittedly, there has been much discussion on the religious positions of the founding fathers, including Washington, Adams, Jefferson and many others. Some of them were firm believers that God the Father was, in fact, God, but that Jesus was a man (not deity) and others believed that God created the universe, “spun” it into existence and then stood back to watch and see what would happen. In other words, these folks believed that God was not active in our lives after the initial creation story.
What’s more remarkable than any of their individual positions is the fact that all these men and women declared their independence and fought a terrible war against the British in order to live in a country where they had the right to have religious freedom. And by the way, a great number of those early Americans were atheists or agnostics. And while that may rub some of us the wrong way, it is clearly consistent with our founding fathers that people have the right to abstain from the worship of God.
There is no question, though, that God and Jesus are deeply imbedded in the very DNA of the country. The Supreme Court building, the Capitol and many other foundational structures in Washington boast deep ties to the Scriptures and depictions from the life of Jesus. Lest we forget, our Pledge of Allegiance also includes the words “under God” in its verbiage. And the Constitution itself even contains the words “in the year of our Lord” in the last paragraph.
Thankfully, those patriots who made the decision to sever our ties with England made memorable decisions that have become tradition through our annual celebrations on the 4th of July. In fact, as I sit here writing this post, I can hear the fireworks in the background – constant reminders that our great country has survived another year of freedom. And I believe that we owe God the glory for that feat.
Our verse for tonight affirms that Jesus is, indeed, the answer – the only answer. John tells us in the book of Revelation that Jesus Himself told us, in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” That’s pretty clear! Incidently, the way the construction occurs in the Greek also means that Jesus is not only the beginning and the end, but everything in between as well. We are dependent on Him for everything – including the victory declaring our independence.
My encouragement tonight is that Jesus is there for whenever we need Him, but His wish in that we would be dependent on Him all the time. My prayer is that as we celebrate this 4th of July, we may all take a moment and thank God for the country that we live in. Sure, it’s not perfect, and we have issues that divide us, but nonetheless, we are still one nation, under God… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…