Leviticus 25: 8-12
I Corinthians 7: 17-24
Independence Day Sunday
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 5, 2015
“For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ.” – I Corinthians 7: 22
On this Sunday following the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we gather in God’s house to thank God for the blessing of liberty and freedom we enjoy in this our country, the United States of America. The outward symbols of our national heritage are all around us.
Many homes proudly display the most familiar symbol, the American Flag. Many impressive displays of fireworks lit up the sky at night. Proclamations have been issued by local, state, and national governing bodies appropriate to the day. Although the original Liberty Bell is now silent, many people will make the pilgrimage to Philadelphia and read its inscriptions from Leviticus: “. . . proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all its inhabitants.” All of these things and events are but outward symbols of something of far greater importance – the spirit of freedom.
The Apostle Paul declared something similar in his discussion about circumscion. “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.” (I Corinthians 7: 19) For Paul, it wasn’t circumscion, which declares us to be free of sin, but our relationship with God. What is important is not the outward trappings but the inner spirit which dwells in people That is also true of our patriotism. While it is good to display the symbol of our nation, it is not the number of flags we put outside of our house, but the spirit of freedom in our hearts and the ways in which we act out our freedom which the flag represents.
Abraham Lincoln in speaking of our provisions for national defense likewise once spoke of the importance of this inner spirit.
What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoast, our army and our navy. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit, which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and we have planted the seeds of despotism at our own doors. – Speech, 1858
Later, Calvin Coolidge spoke about the inner nature of this liberty:
“Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man – these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.
- Presidential speech in Philadelphia commemorating the 150th
Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926