Pride swells in the heart of every real American when he or she thinks of the nation’s independence. We boast at how our ancestors fought to free themselves from an oppressive king. We then glory in the military might that has mushroomed since that first fight. We reap benefits from the sacrifices that early Americans made as they set to work on taming a wild land and building a new nation. In the new country that arose from their toil, every man, woman or family aimed to be independent. The birth of American national independence spawned the western rugged individualist who didn’t need anyone. That idea of independence is so ingrained in almost every American that it takes on a near spiritual aura. And while that spirit of independence has some tangible value to the material world, its worth is limited and temporary. It most certainly is not eternal. In reality, it is more spiritual in appearance than it is in substance.
God never intended for us to be completely independent, either from him, or from each other. The bible teaches us to resist relying on our own understanding, but instead to trust fully in God (Proverbs 3:5-6). It also firmly reminds us that a man may have many plans for his life of independence, but that it is God’s purpose that prevails above those plans (Proverbs 19:21). Paul explains in Galatians that the freedom granted to us through Christ is not to be used to indulge our flesh, but to serve our brothers and sisters (Galatians 5:13). He hammers the point home again in Galatians 6:2 when he commands us to bear one another’s burdens. We are not independent. We are not islands. We cannot do it all. We were never intended to do it all, or to be our own source.
Consider carefully the metaphor presented by Jesus in John 15:5-8. In that passage he likens himself to a vine, and us to branches. He explains that branches are dependent upon the vine, and apart from the vine can do nothing. A branch apart from the vine cannot even live. Such a branch, separated from the vine, withers and succumbs to a world of death.
The truth is that you cannot be truly independent. You will either depend upon God, or you will depend upon the world. To be dependent upon God is to be independent of the world. To be dependent on the world is to accept the shackles of an indifferent and unloving slave master, and to reject the liberty offered by the caring, loving, sovereign of the universe whose sacrifice affords you an eternal, spiritual inheritance. The greatest independence day that you can have is the day you recognize and accept the liberty that Jesus offers you.