My favorite memory of celebrating the 4th of July was 36 years ago. If you’re good with math you might have figured out that was the US Bicentenial. I was fourteen and we lived outside of our nation’s capital, so we drove into DC and stood next to billions of other people within a stone’s throw of the Washington Monument to watch 34 tons of fireworks explode. It spoiled every other 4th of July. Every other fireworks display was like a sparkler.
I live just outside of Philadelphia, so I’ve seen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall many times. I know the story of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (if you’re from another planet, it was July 4, 1776). I know how they risked their lives to put their name on this historical piece of paper. I’m thankful to live in the US. So, in a few hours I’m going to celebrate Independence Day with my brother’s family and a few friends by igniting a few sparklers (and perhaps a Roman Candle or two).
But biblically, independence is not a good thing. It’s not something to be celebrated. The people who are celebrated in the Bible are the ones who didn’t act independently, but the ones who were totally, utterly, hopelessly dependent upon God. Moses at the Red Sea with Egypt approaching. Rahab risking her life to protect the spies. Gideon with his 300 men facing tens of thousands of Midianites. Young David facing the Philistine giant Goliath with only a sling and 5 stones. Hezekiah when Sennacherib of Assyria was at the gates of the city. Esther boldly asking Ahasuerus of Persia to save the Jews. Read the stories of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.
These men and women, who by their actions revealed their faith in God, made a Declaration of Dependence. They were willing to give up their independence because they knew the God they depended upon was trustworthy.