Declaration of Dependence

Declaration of Independence34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

— John 8:34-36 (NIV)

On July 4, 1776 there was a group of men who met to approve the final copy of the Declaration of Independence.  Prior to this a committee had been formed, comprised of 5 men, to whom the task fell to compose one of the most influential documents this world has ever seen.  Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston were the five men who were given the charge to pen a document of independence…a document that would shape our country.

The task of authoring the document fell to Jefferson however, who was deemed by the five selected as the best writer of the group, and the document then underwent 86 different changes between the drafting committee and congress prior to approval.  The Second Continental Congress met on July 4, 1776 and approved the document as a Declaration of our Independence from the oppressive rule of Brittan.  One story even states that as they signed the document on July 19, 1776 that John Hancock, the first to sign and probably the most notable signature in the history of the United States, turned to the others and said of his signature, “King George should be able to see that!”John Hancock Sign 01

So, Jefferson penned one of the most powerful documents, and had many changes that the committee he was a part of made, as well as the many changes that congress then proceeded to make; but there was a section which was left somewhat untouched…a section that identified this nation…a section that at some points it seems we are trying to change.  That section is the first couple of paragraphs:

”When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

— Declaration of Independence, 1776

The forefathers of this nation felt that they were under oppression, so strongly that they sought, and gained, independence from the tyranny they were facing with Brittan.  Jefferson reflected this in the open of the Declaration…when it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political bands that have connected them to another country and to assume their own leadership.  They were searching for a freedom that could only come from breaking away from the strings that had so long tied them down…they were declaring our independence.

The second paragraph opens in a way that is key for us as Americans, and as Christians, to understand what our ties now are.  Jefferson made a profound claim – a claim that we were a nation being formed on Christian Values…a nation devoted to God; a section that passed congress, without change, to show us where our true loyalty as a nation was…so why now are we being proclaimed as “no longer a Judeo-Christian nation”?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

These words bring to light three points that our forefathers were trying to convey, not only to the country they were separating from, but to the world…Three TRUTHS.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” – Truths implies that the next statements were considered factual in the eyes of our forefathers…facts that are held as self-evident (meaning they show themselves without needing proof).

# 1 – All Men are Created Equal

No person was created to be considered greater than another, with the exception of slavery, our forefathers seemed to grasp this point, stating that true freedom comes from considering each other as equals.  The reason this works is because people stop viewing each other as social outcasts, as less than they are…that is how we are designed by God – to be considered equal with each other.

Look at the story in Mark 9:33-37 where Jesus and the Disciples are speaking with each other:

33They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

36He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

— Mark 9:33-37 (NIV)

Jesus addressed this issue of the inequality of man by stating that if you want to be first, put yourself as the very least…the only way to fully understand what reward is, is to become the smallest in your own mind, do not seek your own gain.  Jesus puts the image of a child into play as well…why?  Because children know no friendship boundaries; they seem to accept each other without basing decisions on race, religion, social status, etc.  Children seem to understand that true friendship is more than just skin-deep.  Jesus then says, accept them, you accept me; you accept me, you accept My Father.

# 2 – All Men are Endowed by Their Creator

Not creators or gods, but all me are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  The adoption of this by our forefathers exemplifies that they had a faith in the One-True God.  They didn’t look elsewhere for the explanation, because they were in full belief of ONE God.  Not only is there only one God, but He has given His people certain rights.

So, I guess the question here is one of this, “why we are not/no longer a Christian nation?”  It sure seems to me that is how the forefathers viewed it; we had a belief and basis of God when this country declared its independence.  We were founded on Christian principles and beliefs, and the statement of their Creator implies one God, not many.  Something doesn’t add up today when we look at the congress and presidency, and view the changes they are trying to make based on “religious freedom”…

# 3 – Certain Inalienable Rights

We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights… Inalienable means that it is not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated (dictionary.com)

In other words we are given rights that no one can take away from us, and those rights, according to our forefathers, are from God.  Among those are “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” So again, why is our country trying to force us to accept others and take God out of things when God seems to be the reason we are together as a country today…at least according to the founders of this nation…my how things can change in 239 years.

The three Rights mentioned – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Life:

Life is given to us by God alone.  In Genesis 1:26, God says “Let us create man in our own image.” Genesis 2:7 tells us that, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” So what we see here is that life was given by God himself, to those he created in his own image…God gives life…God breathes life into us…without Him we would not exist.

Jesus then states in John 14:6, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus claims to be the Life…the one who offered his life for our eternal life…Jesus not only gave life, but offered life.  Life is an inalienable right…Life is a gift, and is not for any of us to take from anyone, or to take our own…We are given a life to live by our Creator and that Creator sent His Son to give us eternal Life.  Life is an inalienable right, and our forefathers list it as one of the most important, if not the most important right that we each have.

Liberty:

Plainly put, Liberty is Freedom.  Freedom from arbitrary control (the US from Brittan); the right and power of someone to act, believe, and/or express oneself in a manner of one’s own choosing; or a condition of being physically and legally free from confinement (Dictionary.com).  Liberty is something we seek, something we continually strive for both as an American and a Christian.

As a Christian we seek to break loose from the chains of sin, from the stronghold that sin can have on our life.  As an American, we seek to obtain the Liberty and Freedom that we have been promised from the inception of the Declaration of Independence…the Freedom our forefathers promised.  Here is where we best see this concept of a Declaration of Dependence come into play…for us to declare independence from the things that tie us to the world, we must declare dependence on God.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

— Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

It is for FREEDOM – the reason Christ set us free…the reason he died on a cross.  Christ died to give us freedom…our Liberty was/is dependant on Jesus.  Go back to the first verses I shared, “If the son has set you free, then you are free indeed!” If Christ sets you free, you are truly free.

The Pursuit of Happiness:

Happiness is a state of wellbeing and contentment, but to receive happiness we have to grasp the concept of Dependency…

11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

— Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

Paul explained it best in this section of his letter to the Philippians, telling them that he knew the hardships of life; he knew what it was like to be on both ends of the spectrum…what it was like to have everything, and lose it all.  Paul also shows that happiness is a choice that is made on a daily basis by each and every one of us.  The key of this section, however, comes from verse 13, where Paul discusses his Declaration of Dependence: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Can you say that about your life?  Have you made that choice?  Basically it all sums up in this way:

Life – You have to give it to get it

Liberty – Freedom only comes through Christ

Happiness – a choice we each must make

The only One that can offer all three – GOD!  His Breath gives us life, He has given us free will to choose the path we take, and we get all we need if we choose to be dependent on God for the life that He has provided.  God planned it all out, and sent his son to fulfill a plan…

“16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

— John 3:16-17 (NIV)

God didn’t send Jesus to condemn, but to save – to offer life through Him.

“7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

— 1 John 1:7 (NIV)

What do you depend on?  What do you try and be independent from?  Hopefully you are dependent upon the one who gives you true independence from the bonds of sin, and the bonds of hell.  Where does your heart find rest?  Make your Declaration of Dependence today!  Pray for our country, that we may find our way back to the nation who still believes God is in control.  Pray that we get back to what the forefathers seemed to declare, that we get back to moving forward in the eyes of God.

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One

Sports are a big part of my life…I’ve played sports my entire life, as a sports writer, and now as a coach and sportscaster, I seem to follow them around quite a bit.  One lesson that I have learned about life from sports is the aspect of unity.  Teams that win championships seem to have this aspect of the game down…a team that works together, wins together.

What is unity?

unity /ˈyunɪti/ [yoo-ni-tee]

–noun, plural -ties.

1. The state of being one; oneness.

2. A whole or totality as combining all its parts into one.

3. The state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.

4. Absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character.

5. Oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.

(dictionary.com)

The state of being one…oneness; this is the central aspect to teamwork…teams that work together…win together…because they are ONE.  I look at the NCAA championships in just about every sport and think about the champions.  Every champion won the championship because of a unified purpose and a unified goal…to win the National Championship.  A group of individuals who each have specific roles in the game plan…who found a way to work through the differences of role to bond together for the common purpose.

The second definition stating, “A whole or totality as combining all its parts into one” is a huge key as well to the teamwork aspect of a sports team.  It also reminds me of the cartoon of Captain Planet…the way that they would call for Captain Planet would be to bond together seeing the common goal…and then combining their powers of Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Heart summon Captain Planet.  The interesting part of this combination would then be Captain Planet’s statement…”When your powers combine…I am Captain Planet.”

This is something that is central to the life of a Christian as well…look with me at the book of Ephesians…

19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

— Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)

Paul uses this theme of unity to describe the oneness that the church at Ephesus needed to have.  Paul also used a theme of unity in 1 Corinthians 12 when describing the body.  He states that the body is not one but many parts, and that it must work together…each part in its own capacity…to benefit the body in the greatest fashion…

22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

— 1 Corinthians 12:22-27 (NIV)

Paul wanted to get the point of unity across to the church…Paul wanted them to understand what being a part of the body of Christ truly meant in the grand scheme of things when it comes to being a follower of Christ.  But this is not a foreign concept to Paul…because if you look back at the book of John you see that unity was part of Jesus message as well…When Jesus was praying in the garden – He prayed for unity of the church…

20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

— John 17:20-26 (NIV)

Unity…the common theme of the modern church; which means that no matter the denomination…whether it be Baptist…Christian…Methodist…or any other…the church itself should stand firm in the truth that the God of the universe is the common denominator.  Stop basing your walk on what building you attend and start basing it on the God you serve.  The only way for the world to come to know the love of God is for the church to band as one…to join in the cause…and to exemplify what God means to a dying world.

God loves His children…enough so that Jesus died on a cross…ONCE…for ALL.  If we were supposed to be a group of people who were to be solo acts when it comes to the furthering of the kingdom…why would the writers of the New Testament find it important to speak of the unification of the body?  How are you living?  Are you working together for the common cause?  Does your church join with others to further the Father’s work?  The battle between the denominations has to stop for the Kingdom of God to be fully realized here on earth…Stop saying my church does this…or my church believes that…because in the bigger picture…we are all part of the same Church…we are all part of the Bride of Christ….

That doesn’t mean we should go it alone though…

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

— Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)

Let the light of Christ shine through you today…and band with fellow believers in the sharing of the Gospel to which we are all a testimony…

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

— 1 John 1:7 (NIV)