Monday, July 4, 2011

When is your Independence Day?

July 4th, 1776, was Independence Day in the USA for about 2.5 million people, now significant for more than 311 million. More than $197 million in fireworks were imported to the USA in 2010, with $231 million produced here in 2007 [1]. Many other nations have similar celebrations; for example, Estonia declared independence from the Soviet Union on August 20, 1991, (after the first declaration on February 24, 1918 from the Russian Empire). Those are momentous nationally, but more important: What is your personal independence day?

On June 10, 1935, Bob took his last drink of alcohol. He met with Bill, a severe alcoholic, and explained the steps taken to break free from that debilitating addiction. June 10th is now celebrated as the Founding Day for Alcoholics Anonymous. From those inauspicious beginnings came the well known 12 steps and a program that has been used, not only at AA meetings, but many other “anonymous” addiction recovery programs: narcotics, gambling, sex, overeating, and others. It would be impossible - because of the anonymity - to number the millions of people who have found freedom from destructive addictions through this program. And, each one who successfully breaks free can look back to an individual Independence Day that is at least as significant personally as July 4, 1776 was nationally.

There’s another individual Independence Day, of even greater significance. As militia from the original 13 colonies threw off the yoke of Great Britain’s rule, each person faces the decision to break free from the bondage of sin. Jesus began His public ministry by stating He was sent by God to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). The day Jesus died, He declared independence from the power of the enemy (John 19:30, Luke 10:19) and all who choose to accept Him are free from the power of sin (Romans 6:22, 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). Believers remember the day we became free and anyone else who wishes may do the same (Acts 13:39).

The 12 steps work primarily because they are based on Biblical principles. For example, Step 5 states we “admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Similarly, James 5:16 directs us to “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” Jesus gives freedom for those who accept Him: “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Estonians celebrate two independence days. Some of us need two as well. All of us need at least one (John 3:18).

[1] U. S. Census Bureau newsroom, “Facts for Features: The 4th of July 2011”, < >