Let’s play a game. It’s one of my favorites called Which Would You Rather.
Answer these questions by picking one or the other. “Neither” or “Both” is not an option. Ready?
Which would you rather: Eat a cookie or cookie dough?
Which would you rather: Scratch a chalkboard or bite down on tinfoil?
Which would you rather: Have a life full of good memories or a life full of exciting adventures you couldn’t remember?
Which would you rather: Independence or Freedom?
That last question is tricky. It has been flapping through my mind this morning like the Star – Spangled Banner hanging from my porch.
We Americans value our independence, don’t we? We even have a full calendar day set aside each year to celebrate it.
Yes, I realize we are technically celebrating the birth of our nation, but don’t we tend to focus a lot on the concept of independence?
…Babies should become independent little people as soon as possible. And sleep in their own bed.
…Teenagers dream of driving the car without an adult.
…Financial independence is a sign of true success.
…Independent school districts…Independent banks…Independent churches.
Shall I go on?
Now, don’t misunderstand; I am eternally grateful for our country’s independence from oppressive rule. But today I’m realizing independence is not the same as freedom, and that independence may not necessarily be a good thing.
Consider the definitions of independence:
1)not dependent; not subject to control by others ; 2)not requiring or relying on something else; 3)not requiring or relying on others; 4)showing a desire for freedom
Not dependent…not controlled…not relying…
Independence implies strength and a lack of need, whereas dependence is viewed as a sign of weakness or even failure.
Today, our Independence Day, I find myself wondering how God views independence. Is the idea of independence stressed as much in His word as it is in our society?
God’s Word is pretty clear when it comes to independence—it leads to trouble.
“…Anyone that tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure.” ~Galatians 3:9-10 (The Message)
“We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which He has the final say in everything.” ~1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (The Message)
“I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what He sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes Him in everything He is doing.” ~John 5:19-20 (The Message)
“Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little. If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God? Who needs Him?’ If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God.” ~Proverbs 30:7-9 (The Message)
And that is just it. America has gotten “too full” and has taken her independence too far. We no longer need The Lord because we are quite capable of doing this on our own, thankyouverymuch.
We—Christians especially—have forgotten our need of Him. And whenever we seek to do life independent of God, it never ends well. Just ask the Prodigal Son.
Independence is what we strive for but the bottom line is this: Independence basically means you’re on your own.
I don’t want to be on my own.
Now go back and notice definition number four… showing a desire for freedom. Freedom itself is not included here, but rather a desire for freedom is.
Independence is not the same as freedom.
Too many of us believe that because we are independent, we are free. We feel if we can call the shots, if we can navigate our own lives and make choices based on our own independent thoughts and beliefs, then we must free.
Let’s consider Freedom:
1)the quality or state of being free 2)the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action 3)liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another 4) the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous
Notice the words used to describe Freedom.
…being free…absence of coercion…liberation…exempt…
Freedom is life without force; an able state of being. Freedom implies nothing of weakness or rebellion, but rather an emboldened, confident sense of living.
Now check out just a few of God’s Words on Freedom (there are a slew of them!):
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.” ~Psalm 119:45 (NIV)
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…” ~Luke 4:18
“…That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” ~Romans 8:21
“Now The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~2 Corinthians 3:17
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” ~Galatians 5:1
“In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” ~Ephesians 3:12
Independence lies in our ability to control; Freedom rests in our ability to trust and obey.
Independence is demanded; Freedom is given.
Independence requires effort; Freedom is enjoyed.
Independence involves rebellion; Freedom flows from submission.
I know that statement seems awkward, but consider this: Once a country gains its independence, her people may be free from oppression but they are not free from authority. When we willingly submit to proper authority we experience true freedom. Submission is a free choice. God’s word teaches that submission is a bottom-up decision, not a top-down demand. That would be tyranny. Thus, freedom is found in submission.
“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” ~James 1:25
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” ~1 Peter 2:16
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” ~1 Corinthians 9:19
So this settles it. I choose freedom over independence.
Today, let us celebrate our freedom to depend on God, rather than our independence to do our own thing. This is the wise decision, the one that leads to true freedom and blessings.
“We, the people,” are the key here. If WE will humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from our sinful ways, God Will Hear Us and heal this land we love. Because He loves it, too.
Let us return to dependence on God so we may live freely in The Land of the Free. Let us be brave enough to live by faith. Let us choose to humble ourselves before Him by recognizing it is He who established this country in the first place, for His honor and glory, not for ours.
Won’t you pray with me?
Heavenly Father, we are so undeserving of this land you’ve given us, this country You established for us to enjoy. God, we acknowledge that it is only because of Your grace that we live as we do. Forgive our arrogant minds and prideful hearts for thinking we’ve done all this, that we somehow created this democracy. What we build cannot stand, but Father, Your creations last. Lord, may we not ask You to bless America today, but may we instead thank You for all You have already blessed us with. Forgive our greedy hearts for always asking for more. We recognize in this moment that You have done more than enough and we are grateful. All we ask now is for an outpouring of Your forgiveness that we may receive healing in our land. May we rest in Your promise to provide for Your own and to protect those who love You as the pupil of Your eye . May we intentionally turn from our sin and seek You, that You would hear our cries. All this we confess and pray in the most powerful name above all names: Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
All for Him,
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” ~2 Chronicles 7:14
Join me and countless others as we earnestly pray for our nation during Anne Graham Lotz’s 777: An Urgent Call to Prayer. Click this link to find out more or to sign up for daily prayers via email. It ends July 7th, but don’ t let that stop your prayers!