On July 4, 1776, representatives to the Second Continental Congress signed their names to a little document Thomas Jefferson and a few of his esteemed colleagues penned, and the world hasn’t been the same since. The Declaration of Independence gave continuity and near unanimity to the thoughts that were already swirling in the heads of a couple million colonists chafing under British rule in the thirteen colonies along the eastern seaboard of what is today the United States of America. The Declaration served to organize the rebels in an official sort of way and make clear their intentions to the mother country that the colonists meant to be independent if King George intended to maintain the status quo they found so oppressive. He did.
“The rest is history,” as they say, not to be glossed over of course, but the outcome is the United States of America—a free and independent nation. The meaning of “free and independent” mainly meant for the colonists that they would not be ruled by a monarch thousands of miles away who did not understand their daily struggles. Today we still enjoy the tremendous fruit won for us by the brave souls who suffered, fought, and died for independence. We have the opportunity to be represented at nearly every level of government by men and women who live and work in reasonable proximity to us, who understand our daily struggles because they share them. They rule over us, yes, but they are of us. And when they don’t represent us well, we elect replacements who will. It’s a pretty great system.
In fact, it is a system that favors well-informed, civic-minded Christians who are serious about loving God and loving neighbor. It is a system that flourishes when the electorate is knowledgeable about their problems and the possible solutions—and also well-informed about those people vying to represent them in government. It is a system that works well when the men and women elected to represent their neighbors are selfless, seeking only to improve their communities and their neighbors’ opportunities to flourish in them. Exercising our rights in this system—whether as electors or elected—gives us the opportunity to participate in the governance of ourselves, ruling and being ruled, subjecting and being subject to.
This idea is often referred to as “self-government,” and “government by the people for the people.” And so I ask you what better way to give opportunity to that revered fruit of the spirit self-control than to participate in the self-government we have in the United States of America? God has truly been good to give us this opportunity that, short of a monarchy ruled by King Jesus, is about the best form of government we could hope for among men. Let us not overlook the opportunity to honor God in it.
At Trinitas Christian School it is our sincere hope that we are educating young men and women who will participate in every facet of our government so that we remain a people free and independent of the rule of oppressive tyrants who would force their arbitrary wills on people they do not care to love or understand. Our students’ education makes them keenly aware of the mistakes of the past and the wheels of history that brought our republic into being; it also equips them with the logic skills to think clearly and the rhetoric skills to reason persuasively so that they might preserve it. As Benjamin Franklin said, when asked what kind of government our constitution had guaranteed us, a republic or a monarchy, “A republic, if you can keep it.” And keeping this gift of self-government God has granted us, is one task Trinitas is educating the next generation to do. Happy Independence Day!