Today is a big day. For we Americans, this day represents much more than fireworks, outdoor cookouts, and sticky watermelon faces. It is a day filled with history, significance and courage. The meaning behind the fourth of July helps us teach much greater lessons as well.
I am one of those people that enjoys reading up on significant events. Each holiday I click around on different sites or pick up a book I’ve already purchased somewhere along the way and refresh my memory on the significance of that particular day.
The quick story…
The Americans had been fighting the British since 1775. The issue that was being fought over was the rights of the Englishmen in America. As these conflicts escalated between the American colonies and the British parliament, the Englishmen came to realize they weren’t fighting for their rights as Englishmen, but as Americans.
In June, 1776 a committee was formed to draft a document declaring this very truth, that they were Americans, and that they were independent of the British rule. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were picked to lead the committee in drafting this document. Ultimately, Thomas Jefferson was given the task of writing it.
(Side note: Did you know Thomas Jefferson was only 33 years old when he drafted this document, and that he died exactly 50 years later on July 4, 1826?)
On July 4th, 1776 the continental congress unanimously voted to approve this declaration. Immediately they began printing this declaration and dispersed it to various towns be read to the masses. It was first read on July 8th, 1776 in Philadelphia. The people responded with gunfire, bonfires and fireworks. Fast forward many years later in 1870, Independence Day became a recognized holiday, and in 1938 Congress voted to make it a federal holiday.
Today we are celebrating America’s birthday. We are remembering all the soldiers that have fought for – and in some cases laid down their lives for – the freedom we now enjoy.
But for parents who are always looking for ways to teach their kids about who God is using the circumstances around them, I thought I’d point out a few obvious ones on this day.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
1. Fireworks don’t just celebrate the birthday of our country, they celebrate the death of someone’s rule over us. I found it interesting that on July 8, 1776, the people of philadelphia were using an English tradition to celebrate. Fireworks were normally used, in part, to celebrate the birthday of King George. The Americans were using them to celebrate the death of his rule over them. In talking to our kids, we can remind them how we have died to the Deceiver’s rule over us as well. As Christians, he holds no power over us.
2. Do you see yourself as who you are, or who you used to be? This one is tough for all of us. We tend to categorize ourselves based on our behavior, not based on what Scripture says about us. At some point in the many battles, the people realized they weren’t fighting as Englishmen any longer. They were now Americans. Have you – and have your kids – realized that the Bible calls Christians “children of God” or “saints” or “righteous”. This is now who we are.
3. Declaring your freedom does not make you free; you must be set free. America didn’t experience freedom until after the Revolutionary War ended in 1783. So yes, the Continental Congress declared independence and claimed the freedom Americans should have in 1776, but Americans didn’t walk in this freedom until 7 years later. The Bible says we are a slave to sin until Christ sets us free. We can’t do it ourselves. A battle must be fought, and this freedom must be earned. Jesus did that with his death, burial and resurrection from the dead.
What other ideas come to your mind as you think about the significance of this day?