Today, the 241st anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence, we pause to remember the great sacrifices our predecessors made to ensure our freedom as a nation today. As we all know, after the Colonies won the Revolutionary War, they soon established our Constitution, thereby establishing the laws and systems by which our fledgling nation would be founded, and hopefully, endure. It was for the common goal of freedom that our nation’s founders established those laws and systems. But today, with so much turmoil in our country and political discourse, how are we to treat those same laws and systems to ensure our freedom continues? As we continue down this road we are on, we are bound to hit a crossroad, likely sooner than later. Thus, most would agree something in this system needs to change. So, should we revere our current laws, slavishly re-devoting ourselves to them, no matter the outcome? Should we disregard them, and propose new laws that better suit today? Such questions remind me of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, whose church was experiencing such a crisis. The Galatians were slavishly devoting themselves to the former tenets of Mosaic Law, believing that perfection could be attained by following the law to the letter. By being devoted only to the adherence to the law, and not devoted to loving and serving one another, their church had splintered into factions that were “biting and devouring each other” (Galatians 5:15). In today’s political landscape, both sides start with a preconceived political viewpoint, and then look to specifics of the law (the Constitution) as a means to justify their own political viewpoints and berate the other’s. Lately, this has led a tragic series of zero-sum games, with one group winning and the other losing equally. Fortunately, there is little our world is seeing now that hasn’t already been faced by previous generations. As Paul says in Galatians, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Democracy is a form of self-government, and by refocusing on each other rather than just what the law says, we will revitalize the kind of government that we all desire. On this Independence Day, pray for clarity to see your neighbors as people, deserving of love, and treat them as you wish to be treated.
“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. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” – Galatians 5:13-15 NIV