Today, those of us here in the United States are celebrating Independence Day. Of course, the desire to have freedom is nothing new. Indeed, it goes back to Jesus’ time, if not before.
Of course, freedom can look and mean many different things. Today, we celebrate freedom from being a colony of England. We celebrate the freedom of self-determination, both individually and as a nation. Yet in Jesus’ time, it was freedom from sin. It was freedom of the soul.
And when it comes to sin, our nation certainly has its share. From slavery through to modern day racism and inequality, our nation still has a ways to go before everyone has fully thrown off their shackles. Yes, today’s Independence Day should be a chance to celebrate our freedom. Yet everyday we should use that freedom to continue striving “toward a more perfect union.”
Individually, Christians should use everyday to celebrate the freedom from sin gifted to us by Jesus Christ. We should use his lessons of healing to strive towards a more perfect self. We will never be perfect. We will never be free from sin. We will never live as whole-heartedly as Jesus did. Yet we can work to remove as many of our shackles of sin and self-interest as possible.
However, if we are divided, either as a nation or as a self, we cannot have true freedom. We are always without power when we are divided. In The Book of Mark we see Jesus go back to Nazareth where they see him not as the Messiah, but as nothing more than the son of Mary and Joseph. And in the Gospel of Mark it says that in that moment Jesus was powerless to perform acts of authority. He was divided from those he wanted to help.
In this lesson, we learn that if we are divided from our community than we become weaker. If we are further divided within ourselves, we become weaker still. I know not everyone is Christian, and honestly I am not here to preach to you or to convert you. Rather, I offer it as an example of the importance of self, and the equally important notion of community, notions that are important to our own mental health and well-being.
Independence is definitely important in so many ways. Because when we are subject to something, whether it is a foreign king, sin, our our own darkness, we fall short of being able to live life fully. The truth is we never fully escape that darkness until we celebrate our independence.
Happy Independence Day one and all!