Independence means Responsibility

Armodoxy for Today: Independence Means Responsibility

On this day in 1776, the Thirteen Colonies of the British Empire signed the Declaration of Independence making them the thirteen United States of America. The document has been revered internationally for its eloquence in proclaiming the basic human right of self-determination. Herein is the tie with religion in general and with the Christianity in particular.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,” begins the Declaration. The document is a masterpiece which talks about self-governance, and consequently, the case for personal responsibility, because there is no one else to blame but yourself for your actions.

A child who is caught doing something wrong, passes the buck onto a friend, a sibling or perhaps even exclaiming, “The devil made me do it.” To believe in predestination means that your actions are predetermined by some higher power. The expression “written in the stars,” is commonly used and in Armenian, the word “jakatagir” is used for “fate” because it literally means “written on your forehead.” There is no escape from this fate, for it is written beforehand! And therefore, what mistakes or evil you do is not your fault. You are not accountable because you had no choice to do otherwise.

Christianity rejects fatalism. You are indeed responsible for your actions. Over and over again Jesus teaches lessons on personal accountability and responsibility. He speaks about forgiveness and repentance because these require the acceptance of responsibility for actions.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” continues the Declaration, “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, are identified as gifts from God, and to exploit these gifts is done with the consent of the people.

Today, we celebrate freedom as a gift from God along with a reminder that these ideas were etched in the Declaration of Independence a quarter of a millennium ago and are still being pursued. The celebration of the oldest continuous democracy, the United States, is an opportunity for us contemplate the divine gift of life in all of its ramifications. Take time to read the parables of Jesus. He instructs us to live life, to enjoy the freedom granted to us by God, so that we may enjoy this life in the pursuit of happiness.

Let us pray, Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life and the freedom to choose the direction of our life. Open our eyes to the beauty of life so that we may better appreciate the wonders of freedom that are granted to us. May we be moved to action as directed by our Lord Jesus. Amen.

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