The follow text is from a previous post entitled, “Dependence Day:”
I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of Independence Day. I’m trying to sort through whether that opinion is fueled by the despicable taste in in my mouth when I see red, white, and blue waving as a symbol of national allegiance and empire worship or simply by my struggle to intellectually and philosophically value independence. Freedom is good and necessary but cannot exist through the supposed provision of an earthly empire. Freedom is in the person of Jesus Christ and is quite different from that with which it is quite often confused, “rights.”
My reading on July 3rd proved to be rather timely for the upcoming day celebrated by most citizens of the United States. From Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf:
“Here is roughly how sin works in relation to God the giver. All things are from God and through God, and yet we want to be independent of God, standing on our own two feet, claiming God’s gifts as our own achievement. The young Karl Marx, barely twenty-six years old, put this sentiment as boldly as possible. In a text that remained unpublished during his lifetime, ‘Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,’ he gave an expression to the heart of his rebellion against God:
‘A being only counts itself as independent when it stands on its own feet and it stands on its own feet as long as it owes its existence to itself. A man who lives by grace of another considers himself a dependent being. But I live completely by grace of another when I owe him not only the maintenance of my life but when he has also created my life, when he is the source of my life. And my life has necessarily such a ground outside itself if it is not my own creation.’
Marx held firmly to human independence. It almost seemed to him a value that lies at the bottom of all values. Because the reality of God as creator is incompatible with human independence, he denied the existence of God.
Most of us, especially the believers among us, won’t deny God’s existence in order to secure our independence. Instead, we think that we can have it both ways. We believe that we can stand on our own two feet, independent of God, and still affirm that God is the creator of everything. But that doesn’t make sense. We can be both dependent on God and free; dependence on God is the source of our being, and therefore, our freedom. But we can’t be created by God and independent; God sustains creatures in being and in freedom. When we assert our independence, when we ascribe to ourselves what comes from God, we wrong God – at least as much as I would wrong an author whose ideas I would peddle as my own. That’s our main sin against God the giver. If, like Raleigh Hays, we see ourselves as more or less honest, hardworking citizens, we may believe that we deserve what we have, and even a bit more because an evil world is cheating us of our proper reward. We might not feel particularly grateful for what we have because we think that, rather than receiving it, we earned it. And we want to dispose of our hard-earned goods the way we please; they become not so much gifts given to us to enjoy and pass on, but rather our exclusive possessions.
Assertion of independence, pride of achievement, sense of entitlement, and absolute right to dispose with our goods – these are the ways in which we live in contradiction to who we actually are in relation to God. And in these ways, we, decent citizens, live as inveterate sinners. To live in sync with who we truly are means to recognize that we are dependent on God for our very breath and are graced with many good things; it means to be grateful to the giver and attentive to the purpose for which the gifts are given.” //
// Miroslav Volf. Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. pp. 35-6.