Happy 4th of July! As we enjoy this holiday weekend, I remain thankful for our freedom. But I have a challenge for you when it comes to thinking about independence. It involves a sermon my brother, Reverend Dennis Marquardt, preached almost a decade ago and addresses the growing divide we see in our country.
The 4th of July is a great celebration of our nation’s independence. Unfortunately, this word “independence” has come to mean something that our forefathers never intended. Today it means, “No one tells me what to do, I can do whatever I want. It doesn’t matter who I hurt. I’m INDEPENDENT.” To our forefathers however, the idea of independence was related to the concept of INTERDEPENDENCE.
This is also true spiritually. One of the reasons American Christianity is in trouble today is because we have a false idea of what this independence looks like. We think being a Christian is like being an American … we are independent; we don’t have to answer to anyone. Of course, we know we answer to God, but we have bought this notion that our independence rises above all else. No one can tell us what to do. Attending a church or being a member of one is optional. Being kind to people who are nasty to us is optional. We name call when we don’t agree. We regularly see this on social media.
The Bible never supports the idea of complete independence. Actually, complete independence is more closely related to the concept of evil. Satan got Eve to think and act independently from God and her husband — sin resulted! Satan himself acted independently from God and it was his downfall. The drive for independence is built on a foundation of sin and evil and it obliterates our dependence on God.
Everywhere we hear voices who want to ignore faith as a building block of culture. They mock all morality and virtues. They want full independence to do whatever they feel is right in their own eyes. It is a story as old as the book of Kings in the Old Testament, when the kings did what was right in their own eyes and ignored God. By the way, their kingdoms fell.
Faith is built on a healthy dependency on God, the giver and maker of all life. The power of the church is found in community that is interdependent. We are not alone and don’t grow alone. We are built together as a community upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Nothing good happens spiritually with independent Christians — it is a contradiction in terms! There is no true power in being independent. This is one reason Christ told Peter to establish a community of believers, the church.
We need each other to help us stand firm and know the truth. If the church would grow in unity, it could be a model for the culture. So this 4th of July, celebrate freedom, but remember, your freedom in Christ should make a difference in who you are as a person who builds community, unity and speaks the truth in love. Most of all, we who believe, recognize our total dependence on a loving God who works for our good.
Freedoms we favor most
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.