Independence Day

“Mankind, that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the 4th of July and we will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution but from annihilation.

We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist, and should we win today, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice,

We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

- President Thomas J. Whitmore

When I think of the greatest Independence Day speech, I think of the one above. That is the speech that has left me challenged the most. The one I saw addressed to the world when I was 13. The one delivered by President Thomas J. Whitmore. Not a lot of people know who he is. His face isn’t on a bill and almost all the things he did during his presidency are not recognized today. All but his famous Independence Day speech. You may at this point have to google him or you may be asking who is this great American president that I have never heard of? Thomas J. Whitmore was the United States President for approximately 2 hours and 33 minutes and grossed $817 million at the box office. He is the president the world saw in the 1996 movie Independence Day! 

I personally can’t think of the 4th of July without seeing Will Smith or Bill Pullman lead the charge to fight off the alien attack coming against the world. In the greatest fictional show of unity the world has ever seen, this movie displayed how we as humans can come together to fight, as long as we recognize that we have a common enemy. What are the chances that the entire globe would fight for their freedom on all dates, the 4th of July! Oh Hollywood, you are amazing! 

There is a slight similarity to the things we see in that movie that pertain to the moment we are in as a globe. The world has for the first time in a long time a recognizable common enemy. One that, depending on which country or state you are in, can seem unstoppable. We are seeing a show of unity around the world on how to defeat that unseen enemy and, we are in more ways than not, coming together. We are also seeing unity surrounding other enemies like racism and injustice as well. Even though we are not entirely all on the same page, we are finding agreement in the confrontation of hatred and bigotry. This unity, as admirable as it may be, is not really aimed at the real enemy. Let’s not get it twisted, those enemies that I spoke of need to be defeated, but as followers of Christ, we know that the Enemy, capital “E”, was dealt with a long time ago. The real enemy is not flesh and blood. The enemy is unseen.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  - Ephesians 6:12 NIV

Recognizing our common enemy unites us. In the Bible, there are two types of enemies. The flesh and blood ones and the spiritual ones. God gave his only Son to die on a cross for the flesh and blood ones and that death obliterated the spiritual one. When we go around without an understanding of who the real enemy is, we will end up waging war on each other. We will look for the seen enemy instead of focusing on the one that is unseen. This is the message in the passage we just read.

Declare war on the right enemy. I have found myself during this season, or more accurately, pretty much my whole life, waging war on the wrong enemy. Waging war on the flesh and blood enemies. This doesn’t mean we don’t have flesh and blood enemies that we need to confront, but the Bible tells us to confront our flesh and blood enemies with love, not hate. That is what Jesus did for us when we were his flesh and blood enemies. He loved us and set us free. Everyone deserves to know that freedom.

“We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests”

I have never quoted a fake president as much as I have in this blog post, but I hope these words resonate with you as much as they did with me. We have some things to put aside this Independence Day. We have some things we need to let go of and some people we need to seek forgiveness from as well as some we need to set free. This is it. What better time is there to do this than a day that celebrates freedom. 

Our freedom was won on a cross by Jesus. We need that to be our ultimate freedom. That has to be the freedom we have confidence in the most. If we don’t have the most confidence in our greatest liberator who freed us from our greatest enemy, we will try and hold on to lesser liberators who have freed us from lesser enemies. Ephesians shows us that even though we are free we will continue to struggle against this enemy. The enemy will continue to cause havoc all around us even though we have been set free. And so, the only thing we can do, must do, is to remind our hearts who the real enemy is and that the enemy has been defeated.