I want to share with you another Peanuts cartoon strip, created by Charles Shultz and published July 3, 1964. Linus is talking to his sister Lucy and reminds her that tomorrow is the 4th of July. Lucy asks her brother whether he realizes it is also called Independence Day. Linus doesn’t, so Lucy enlightens him by saying it is one of those years when they both occur on the same day.
July 4th celebrates the day in 1776 when 53 representatives from all 13 American colonies, gathered at the 2nd Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. The document was one page, including signatures and date. One sentence, at the bottom of the back page, reads “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” The sentence identified the document when rolled up for storage.
It was not a binding law passed by Congress. Rather, it summarized the reasons for seeking independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was intended to be read by King George III of England, as well as to inspire American colonists to continue their fight for freedom that began in June 1775 at Bunker Hill. And to enlist support from other nations.
The battle for independence continued until October 17, 1781 when the British surrendered at Yorktown. But it was not until September 3, 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed, and the United States was recognized as an independent nation.
Lucy was correct to tell Linus July 4th and Independence Day are the same holiday. However, declaring your freedom and achieving it are not necessarily simultaneous events. The Lord had made a similar declaration for our freedom, but it took time and sacrifice to accomplish.
Beginning with Adam and Eve we all have been in bondage to sin. Tempted by Satan, we repeatedly choose to be disobedient to God’s commandments. We fail miserably to achieve freedom by our own efforts; wicked desires give birth to sin that kills us (James 1:15). Fortunately, at just the right time, the Lord made a declaration (John 1:1-5), unusual in its brevity and scope. The Bible simply refers to “the Word,” as the divine expression of Jesus Christ’s mission as the Son of God, from birth to death to resurrection to glory.
There is no official calendar date to mark God’s declaration of independence from the penalty of sin. Christmas is about as close as we can get, though the announcement was prepared long before the earth was created. When you think about it, everyday ought to be a celebration of the freedom offered through Jesus. No need for holiday closings, fancy trees, bright lights, or gifts. Just a thankful heart.
Lest you get carried away with the announcement, recall the long battle required to achieve true freedom. Jesus had to suffer, be crucified, and then raised from the dead to make the Word official. Terms of surrender for the devil meant being cast into the lake of fire (hell). The treaty Jesus offers to us includes both independence and dependence clauses. Independence from the penalty of sin (eternal separation from God) occurs for everyone who consents to having Jesus as Lord and having their name recorded in the book of life (Romans 10:9; Revelation 3:5). Thereafter, we live a life of dependence on the Lord as our refuge and strength (Psalm 59:16).
This 4th of July you might wave the flag and have a backyard barbeque, surrounded by a world enslaved in hate and anger. Don’t join the world, embrace your God-given freedom, and show love to your neighbor (Galatians 5:13-14). Both can occur on the same day.
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