Fox News analyst Peter J. Johnson, Jr. wrote about the meaning of Independence Day. "He was born just a few blocks from where I grew up: Jimmy Cagney, the American film legend playing George M. Cohan, the man who owned Broadway. Cohan wrote the American anthems 'Yankee Doodle Boy,' 'Over There' and 'You're a Grand Old Flag.' And as we celebrate the 234th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, I'm like a lot of you: I'm proud to be a Yankee Doodle Dandy through and through.
"You see, our flag…flies to announce our very best aspirations born of the toil of our very worst days. And as it whips in the wind, it whispers to us that the American Revolution was only a beginning and not an end. And whether it flies in a lonely military outpost in Afghanistan or from the highest point of the Capitol, it announces the blessings of freedom. Not because we blindly claim freedom, but because we fearlessly practice it.
"[We are] The same people who live the words of Thomas Paine, 'Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it'"(The Real Meaning of Independence Day, July 2, 2011; Peter J. Johnson, Jr. has served as a legal analyst for the Fox News Channel since 1997).
The world's brand of freedom
True freedom cannot come from humankind; 60 centuries of human existence prove this true. The history of humanity can be measured by and written as a chronicle of wars. Mankind has enjoyed peace for only 268 of the past 3,400 years, or just eight percent of recorded history (Chris Hedges, What Every Person Should Know About War, 2003).
The Bible defines the cause of wars and conflicts: "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure" (James 4:1, New Living Translation).
Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) shared this legendary axiom about peace: "Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice" (Baruch Spinoza, Familiar Quotations, John Bartlett, 16th ed., 1992, p. 277).
Likewise, freedom is not simply the absence of war, which allows time for another dictator to plot another war. True freedom must also be a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence and justice.
God's brand of freedom
Is there another kind of freedom than the one we celebrate every 4th of July? Your Bible says there is.
God invented peace wherein true freedom exists. Jesus said to His fearful disciples, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27). What kind of freedom in peace did Jesus speak?
The apostle Paul defines true freedom: "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered…But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life" (Romans 6:16-17, 22).
True freedom is freedom from all the selfish bad habits that hold us captive to sin.
True freedom then comes only from God; freedom from sin (Romans 6:22), societal corruption (Romans 12:2a) and Satan (1 Peter 5:8).
The freedom that Americans celebrate on Independence Day is great, for it allows us freedom of religion, which leads to God's true freedom if we walk as Jesus walked.
Order our booklet, Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion to find out more about God's true freedom and how you can experience it.