Submitted Date 07/05/2019

Happy Independence Day! For those of us in the U.S.A., this day is the one we celebrate as a line of demarcation. From 13 colonies, all under the authority of the Crown (Great Britain), we declared ourselves to be instead an independent nation-state and started working to get others to agree. It took another forty years or so and at least two wars to finally cement our status as such in the minds of the mother country, but by the end of the War of 1812 the bonds finally loosed. The struggle for true freedom, however, continues to this day.

Our nation was, "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," in the famous words of Abraham Lincoln. It took the first 100 years for us to extend that liberty to men of all races, and another 50 years or so before women were officially included in helping decide the whys and wherefores. There are interesting parallels between our national experience and that of the Galatian church of Paul's day.

In Galatia, there were some who sought to inculcate some of the old Jewish traditions and laws into the practice of the relatively new Christian church. Others in the church thought the liberty Paul preached meant there were no rules at all. Both extremes considered all non-adherents to their interpretation to be out of favor with God. The Holy Spirit conveyed God's standard through His servant, Paul. What did He say?

When Paul began in Galatians 5:13, he counseled balance. He continued, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!" (Verses 14-15‬) This key to church harmony would help our nation as we continue to sail the seas of self-governance.

If we bite and devour one another (constantly and violently squabble), we are headed down a path of self-destruction. In politics, religion and every other area of disagreement, let our actions toward one another be dictated by love, not solely self-interest. In celebrating out liberty, let us not think it gives us license to abuse another's freedom. Our founders recognized the weakness in unchecked democracy and set up a unique system of checks and balances to keep either conservative or liberal tendencies from running roughshod over the other. What we call gridlock they would call protection from tyranny.

As Paul told the Romans, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another . . .." (‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) There is little in life - familial, religious, political, etc. - that would not be aided by this approach to one another. We are free, but use freedom generously with one another, rather than simply serving self.

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