By Dr. James C. Denison
President, the Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
June 28, 2010
Topic: freedom in Christ
Bulldozers, ducks, and Independence Day
Did you hear about the Census worker in Alaska who was attacked by a bulldozer? This morning’s USA Today website tells us that others have been shot at with pellet guns and confronted with pickaxes, crossbows and hammers. They have been bitten by pit bulls, chased by packs of dogs, and pecked by ducks. Apparently not everyone is happy to be an American citizen, or at least to tell the Census Bureau that they are.
This Sunday our nation will celebrate our 234th anniversary. I’m sure you know that we declared independence from England on July 4, 1776. But did you know that no one signed the Declaration of Independence that day? That George Washington never signed the Declaration at all?
Why will we celebrate the day with fireworks? Who commissioned the flag we will fly this weekend, and other actors in the celebration such as the Statue of Liberty, the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance? And what does Independence Day say to followers of Jesus? I did some research over the weekend, and will share what I discovered with you this week.
Let’s begin at the beginning. For years, residents in the 13 colonies of the New World protested to England’s King George III that they were subjected to taxation without representation. The colonies finally sent delegates in May of 1776 to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. On June 11, the Congress formed a committee to create a formal “Declaration of Independence.”
This committee was headed by Thomas Jefferson, and included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman. On June 28, Mr. Jefferson presented the first draft of the Declaration to Congress. A total of 86 changes were made to his draft before the final version was adopted officially by the Continental Congress at 2:00 P.M. on July 4, 1776.
The following day, copies of the Declaration of Independence were made available to the public. On July 6, the Pennsylvania Evening Post printed the document for the world to see. Two days later, the Liberty Bell was sounded from the tower of Independence Hall, summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration by Colonel John Nixon.
On July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked our first Independence Day by adjourning Congress and hosting celebratory parties. Other towns picked up the custom. After the War of 1812 with England, such observations became even more common. Congress established Independence Day as an official holiday in 1870.
July 4, 1776 is not the only declaration of independence we should celebrate this week. Paul told followers of Jesus that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). We were enslaved to sin, but now there is no sin we must commit (1 Corinthians 10:13). We were enslaved to death, but now we will never die (John 11:26). We were enslaved to hell, but now we who know Christ as Lord will spend eternity with him in paradise (Luke 23:43).
For Christians, every day is July 4. Why is that fact good news for you today?
Copyright © 2010, Center for Informed Faith. All rights reserved.