On our way to the cottage this morning for our annual Fourth of July celebration/family reunion, we talked about what the Fourth of July is really all about. What did the fireworks celebrate? Why do people usually have this day off work? What are the various celebrations that people have supposed to mean?
I read excerpts from the book John Adams (one of my all time favorites!) about the vote to declare independence, which took place on July 2, 1776 by the Continental Congress. This vote was followed by a 36 hour marathon declaration writing session, and the actual paper declaration was then signed by most of the delegates on July 4, 1776. A bit of trivia for you is that the final signer did not sign the declaration until January, 1777!
What motivated these men to pledge "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" to the idea of an independent nation? In signing the Declaration of Independence they all became traitors to King George III of Britain. They were a group of colonists, not even all in agreement with each other, who were vastly outnumbered by their former British countrymen. What made them willing to risk everything for this idea?
Liberty. It was all about liberty. The liberty to formulate for themselves their own government system. Liberty to choose representatives for themselves. Liberty to speak their mind without fear. Liberty to assemble, to bear arms, to worship according to their own conscience. Liberty!
Liberty is actually God's idea! "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17.
Spiritual liberty is to no longer be slaves to sin. Or be slaves to rules. To have freedom from sin, and freedom in Christ. Wow!!
Political liberty is an institution of men, but contains principles from God Himself. No wonder it is such a great idea!
After the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Revolutionary War was soon to follow. A war so lopsided it should have been an easy victory for the British. A war whose outcome turned on so many seemingly small moments. A war that made George Washington a hero. And after the American victory, the long arduous process of forming the republic and writing the constitution began.
What an experiment! What an amazing, incredible, monumental experiment. John Adams said these words about declaring independence in a letter to a friend, "Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world."
We are some of the unborn that Adams was speaking of. Our lives and liberties are what they are today because of men like Adams, and all our founding fathers, who looked into the future and saw a new republic, based on the essential idea of liberty.
That is what we celebrated today! And that is what we must resolve to maintain.
Happy Birthday America!