Thursday, March 20, 2014

Declaring Independence

   A historic Scottish conversation has resurfaced in the news. It seems that the region is counting down to a September 18 vote on whether or not to secede from Great Britain. While Scots have long desired to be free from English taxes and control - watch "Braveheart" for background - the prevailing wisdom is that the vote for independence will not pass. It seems there are too many questions about what currency they would use, if they could still get the BBC for free in their homes, how much it would cost to start a military, and if they'd be allowed to join the European Union. It will be interesting to see if the Scots vote with their heads or their ancient hearts. {My father, an amateur genealogist for decades now, recently showed me that our family can be directly linked back to Scotland and my 11th great-grandfather, Sir Robert Scott, who was born in 1540, in Perthshire, Scotland. I can only imagine that they were talking about independence from England back then, too!}
   Even more prominent in the news are the stories coming from Southern Ukraine. The tensions are related to a small peninsula at the bottom of Ukraine, known as Crimea, that extends into the Black Sea. The entire land mass is one-fifth the size of our own State of Georgia, yet the world is watching as armies roll out, borders are disregarded, energy assets are taken by force, votes are held, and former superpowers again face off. It was started when Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych's began steering his country back to an alignment with Russia. Important questions abound. Who has the authority to declare independence? Do elected officials or the people have the final say with whom they will align themselves?
   Questions about the authority to declare independence did not originate with nations, though. An independent spirit was first planted in our hearts. Like these countries, there is a lot riding on which choice is made. To whom will we declare our allegiance?
   When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, whom he had never visited, he wanted to lay out a broad understanding of why Jesus Christ needed to live and die for us. For Paul, it all started with our fierce turning away from God. We chose to be independent. We chose to align ourselves with any number of smaller gods. Paul says in Romans 1,
So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.
One of the great mysteries of our life and relationship to God is this tension between having been created free by God but also created to follow and be obedient to God. God wants us to choose freely. God wants us to choose God.
   This resonates with me. I am free but also dependent. I am at my best when I freely submit to the God who knows better than I do. God is working for my good if I would just have faith. Oh, that I would consistently vote to be both dependent and free.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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