Happy Independence Day

Written by Glyn Norman

It may seem strange for someone British-born to write about Independence Day, but I am also an American citizen, so I think it is permitted. Independence Day commemorates the time when the rebellious colony broke off from its original motherland of England, and became the United States of America. Apparently Americans do not have an appreciation for benevolent overlords, who wished nothing more than your success (and a moderate amount of reasonable taxes). All joking aside, independence is a fine thing to aspire to, when it means relief from oppression. Who would want to be tied and obligated to an oppressive government?

What I've been thinking about is how this Act of Independence became an Attitude of Independence. American folklore is replete with tales of those pioneers who heroically forged their way west, leaving behind the comforts of home to create a new future for themselves. The American hero is traditionally one who needs no one else, who stands alone against all odds, and whose perseverance and an undaunted spirit prevail.

But perhaps a closer look is necessary. These wagons that headed out west were wagons of families. They were also part of a wagon train, as in, lots of other families working together. The earliest arrivals to America required the help of the Native Americans to survive their first bitter winter. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto (though he was never given equal billing). So perhaps the myth of the independent American is just that - a myth. 

And that is for the best. Because the reality is, we were never intended to be independent. God actually created us dependent. Dependent on Him, and dependent on one another. In the book of Genesis, we read this: 

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)

The stunning part about this verse is that this commentary happens before sin ever entered the world. Even before sin, something was "not good." What was not good was the man being alone. He wasn't designed for it. He was designed to be in relationship with his Creator AND other humans. It was only when Eve came along that everything became "very good."

So while we may treasure the myths of a lone hero forging a noble path, the reality is that we need each other. Acknowledging that saves us from pride, loneliness, and the myth of independence... so let me rephrase: Happy Inter-Dependence Day.

See you on Sunday. Don't come alone, but bring a friend ☺