The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays of the year. As a child, I can remember my mom, dad, brother, and I sitting out on the upstairs deck of our home in Plainfield, Indiana, as we watched the fireworks display put on by the local Elks Club. In later years, our family would make it a tradition to visit my Uncle Mike and Aunt Cathy in Lafayette, Indiana, to have a cookout and swim in their pool. After we had done all the eating, swimming, and sparklers we could, we’d all go over to Slayter Hill at Purdue University and watch the city’s fireworks display. Those were days I have cherished greatly. Even today, I still look forward to spending the Fourth with my wife and girls, watching the fireworks together here in Lexington.
Here’s an observation. Have you ever noticed the way we most often celebrate our independence as a country is by gathering together with others?
There is a myth about independence often prevalent in our American culture, and even sometimes in church culture, which seeks to convince us that our own self-determination and willpower are all we need to succeed. It’s the kind of go-it-alone mentality that says, “Just pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” to overcome life’s challenges. While it is true, biblically speaking, that we are each personally responsible for our choices in life (Ezekiel 18:20; Galatians 6:7-8), it is also true biblically that when we do decide to overcome significant obstacles, we cannot do it alone. We need God, His Son, His Holy Spirit, and His people.
Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Acts 2:42-47, in particular, illustrate for us the interdependence we have on others. Surrounding ourselves in deep Christian relationships helps to sharpen us, strengthen us, equip us, and support us. The truth is, I need others in my life that will extend to me the grace that I cannot often give myself. And it is this interdependence that ultimately leads to a greater experience of the freedom we each have in Christ.