Today is the 4th of July, the day America celebrates independence, remembers the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, when "the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America". For citizens of America, this was the beginning, the foundation of freedom. We don't celebrate the the Constitution, signed September 17, 1787, the written footprint of freedom and liberty that empowered and outlined the responsibilities of "We the people". Those beginnings and struggles to define freedom have been followed by decades of great efforts and epic failures to live out this kind of freedom. America is not about a particular place or group of people, rather America is "a radical and unprecedented idea, based upon liberty and freedom for all". (Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It)
Recently, I read Eric Metaxas’ book If You Can Keep It, The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty. The founders of America's document of freedom, The Constitution, believed that "the idea of total religious freedom was paramount." Metaxas writes about freedom and liberty, government and self-government, about virtue and love of country all being part of what formed America's ideals of freedom and what "we the people" must value. He speaks to the fragility of freedom and the uniqueness of America's government. Metaxas describes the heart of America as "the idea of living for others - of showing them a new way of living."
America, with its unique government and struggles to live its principles of liberty, continues to learn and evolve. It is not perfect, nor are its citizens; however, all citizens of America are included in the "we", each shares the burdens and enjoys the goodness. I treasure the freedom to worship as I choose, the freedom of speech to share my thoughts, the freedom to dream and opportunity to achieve dreams, the freedom to respectfully disagree with some and still remain part of this country. Especially on a day that celebrates independence, with both humiltiy and sadness, I do remember that this freedom has not come without its many wounds, some physical others pyschological, losses that linger, pain that divides.
I believe in a God who offers a "radical and unprecedented idea" of spiritual freedom. I believe in a God who loves and chooses to love everyone. I trust in a God who desires a relationship with a sinner like me. I believe in a God who can do all things! -dho
** written Wednesday this week for the 4th of July! Next week, returning to Thursday!