You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.—Galatians 5:13
Today is the called the birthday of the USA. We celebrate our independence from England, declared by 13 American colonies named the United States of America, on July 4, 1776. The Revolutionary War began in 1774 and lasted until 1783. Those who left England left for various reasons, but many to escape religious persecution.
William Penn, an English Quaker, left England in 1682 and founded Pennsylvania with a land grant that was owed to his father, then deceased. His goal was to create a colony that allowed for freedom of religion in order to protect himself and fellow Quakers from persecution. An aside – my sixth great-grandfather, Richard Linville, his wife and two sons left their home in Sussex Co., England in 1682/3 to join this colony. Penn called Pennsylvania the ‘holy experiment’ and wrote a constitution that would limit the power of government. This constitution had many of the rights that would eventually be granted the citizens of the US through its constitution.
I have been meditating on independence/dependence and freedom/oppression for the last day or two. Independence appeals to Americans. We take it so far these days that we have become separated from our fellow citizens in so many ways. We don’t want to be dependent on anyone. Ever. I am blessed to be an American and there is so much I could reflect upon, but I don’t want to focus on this. I want to focus on Jesus.
Jesus turns it all upside down. Jesus calls us to total dependence on him. He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.”—John 15:5. Someone said, “Far from being self-reliant, we are totally and eternally dependent on the One who died to set us free. Every day is our ‘dependence day.’” I like that. We celebrate it every Sunday.
God’s ‘holy experiment’ calls us to a whole new way of living. He also gave us a ‘constitution’: “You shall have no other God’s…etc.” These 10 commandments tell us how to live in the new society. Jesus summed them up when we told us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This new colony is a new Kingdom, and we have a new King.
The Daughters of the King pray every day for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom. I do that, but I have learned over the years, especially after Jesus told me, that the spread of his Kingdom requires me to actively work in the spreading of it as well. The Holy Spirit will give us the power to do this in the ways that Jesus calls us. I have a friend whose entire Rule of Life is: “Love God; Love my neighbor.” It’s simple. He does what is in front of him as he spreads the Kingdom.
N. T. Wright wrote, “The final kingdom, when it comes, will be the free gift of God, a massive act of grace and new creation. But we are called to build for the kingdom. Like craftsmen working on a great cathedral, we have each been given instructions about the particular stone we are to spend our lives carving, without knowing or being able to guess where it will take its place within the grand design. We are assured, by the words of Paul and by Jesus’s resurrection as the launch of that new creation, that the work we do is not in vain.
“Happy “Dependence” Day