The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and announced the separation of the thirteen American colonies from Great Britain. With this, a new nation was formed—the United States of America.
History verifies Thomas Jefferson as the composer of the original draft. Once completed, Jefferson submitted his draft to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams for their changes. Eventually, it made its final destination to Congress where it was amended for the last time.
Today, we see in its detailed wording why Congress was declaring independence from Great Britain.
The most quoted line from the Declaration is "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Our forefathers were declaring they not only deserved freedom, but were willing to continue fighting for it.
Freedom is a great definition of independence, as it is the result of the choices we make in our life. The power of choice is one of the greatest freedoms we have in our country, and knowing where to find it is important, as we see in Proverbs 2:6: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”
Let's review six freedoms we must all celebrate this July 4th:
1. The Freedom to Believe
Our country continues to serve as a magnet for oppressed individuals who come to the USA for an opportunity to capture their dreams. Many dream for a good job, food, and shelter for their family. But our government should not be relied upon as the only resource to replace our faith in a God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).
2. The Freedom to Live out Our Faith
In some countries, the mention of serving God or his Son means instant death. Our forefathers recognized the Creator through their extension of certain God-given rights in the Declaration of Independence.
Our faith is the most important of all, as it gives us the foundation and assurance that God is in control of a world in chaos. When life seems out of control, seek the source of all creation—God. He will provide peace in the midst of all your life's storms.
3. The Freedom to Worship
We are allowed the choice to worship in any way we desire. God created us for fellowship. Our individual gifts are stronger when they are joined with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sadly, statistics show worship attendance is in a decline as more people choose a life of independence which ultimately leads to a life of solitude.
Choose today to ask God to direct you to a community in which to be involved. He will direct you to “give and receive“ as needed.
4. The Freedom of Prayer
Self-reliance is an American lifestyle demanded and respected in numerous circles. Just as this can be seen as a strength, it can also be a tremendous weakness when it leads us to put God on the sidelines of our life, and call upon him only when we need his rescue.
In personal times of self-reliance, I sometimes take on an image of seeing myself as "God-like" which results in my placing other gods before him, namely the god of “Me." By choosing to submit our requests to God in prayer we are making the choice to live out the faith to which he calls us.
5. The Freedom to Vote
Tens of millions of professed Christians don't vote. We must recognize in our nation every vote does count, as issues such as racial reconciliation, abortion, social services, and taxes continue to create further divisiveness. Our nation was founded on God, yet we continue to chip away at God’s sovereign place of authority through the decisions continually implemented by the Senate, Congress, and Judicial branches.
As a body of believers, we must call sin what it is, and stand united as we cast our votes through God’s divine wisdom and direction.
6. The Freedom of Happiness
If you notice in the Declaration, one of the rights it defines is "the pursuit of happiness." Galatians 5:22 says we can have real joy in our life as we walk in the Holy Spirit. We don't have to pursue happiness; rather we can choose to live it out in the Spirit. This allows us to receive what we richly deserve.
So what about the disease, divorce, death, and disappointment we may receive along life’s journey? Paul summarizes our responsibility well:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. – 1 Peter 4:12-13
The 56 leaders who signed the Declaration of Independence had the foresight to understand things had to change...so the generations who followed them would experience Life, Liberty, and Happiness. They accomplished this for all of us to enjoy by having fortitude, a strong vision, and steadfast faith.
As we celebrate this July 4th holiday, is it possible for us to have the same impact as our forefathers did for future generations? I believe we can, through the manner in which we act upon the six freedoms listed above.
Legacy Planning begins when you realize you will not necessarily complete what you begin in one generation, but rather you become the visionary, understanding the importance of planting strong seeds that may be harvested by many future generations.
As we celebrate this holiday, may we plant well so God will provide a bountiful crop which will be enjoyed by many future generations.