I was 8 years old in 1976. I remember it as a very exciting year. We had a year long American birthday party for our bicentennial. There were parades, bicentennial quarters, barbecues, and fireworks. It was so much fun. I was filled with national pride. What a good feeling that was. I had no hang-ups about Viet Nam, no understanding of Watergate, knew nothing of gas shortages. All I knew is we made it to the moon and we were free because some ragtag colonists resisted tyranny. That captured the embodiment of the American spirit for me.
Thirty-four years later, things are very different. I believe there is a shared sense of unity among Americans, respect for what we have, and respect for both those who obtained our freedom and those who protect it. Still, I don’t sense national pride. I think maybe more people feel shame at how we have trashed that freedom than pride. Perhaps I just know more now than I knew then. That may be a part of it, but something inside me says there’s more to it.
Whatever you believe about moral and spiritual values, America was built on Christian values. That’s not to say our forefathers were without sin. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). They committed their own forms of tyranny. But their gift to us is a Constitution built on Christian principles; their ideals, if not always their practice.
The thing about tyranny is that it does not come from God. It comes from sin. Freedom comes from God. God gave Israel judges, not kings. In their foolishness they begged God for a king. He then gave them what they deserved.
Freedom is not the absence of authority, but a system that does not exalt man’s authority beyond dispute. Only God is infallible.
I believe the Bible is God’s word and it’s content trustworthy, despite some problems we have recording and translating it. Those who claim it is unrecognizable from the original are ignorant of the facts. There is no historical document whose authorship and integrity has been so heavily scrutinized and validated as the Bible. In the Bible, we find God revealed and his authority asserted and justified. He is sovereign because only he is self-existent. Everything else exists because he created it. He makes the rules because he is the standard. He decides how things work and how things work is an expression of who he is.
We have the blessings we have in America because we descend from people who, however fallible they were, set their eyes and hearts on God. God has the moral high ground, ground that is firm and unshifting. By turning to him, he pulls us towards righteousness that we do not have in ourselves. The founders came from a world of subjugation under the authority of human kings and established a republic of judges held to account by the people they serve, under the authority of God.
Praise God for Independence Day!