In Jewish tradition the youngest child begins the Passover meal, or seder, by asking the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The rest of the celebration is an answer to that question; through the foods they eat, the way those foods are prepared, and the way they eat them, the story of that fateful night, when God delivered his people from captivity, is recreated. It’s a memorial of how they worked together, under God’s protection, to escape their captors and find freedom.
Americans could learn from this. For too many of us Independence Day has become just another day off of work, a day for good deals on mattresses and new cars, a day for barbecues and beach trips. We would do well to learn from our Jewish friends by asking ourselves the same question: “Why is this day different than all other days?”
Now this is not intended to draw a moral equivalence between Egypt’s enslavement of the Jews and King George III’s onerous taxation of the colonies. But the freedoms we enjoy in America today–to worship God as we choose, to speak freely, to elect those who govern us–were all rooted in that fateful July 4th day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was ratified, with John Hancock’s eloquent signature below Thomas Jefferson’s even more eloquent closing line, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” We see here another example of a group of people bonded together, under God’s protection, taking the first steps toward freedom.
Christ set us free with his death on the cross and resurrection. God gave us this wonderful gift, a gift greater than a walk across the Red Sea, far greater than thirteen Free and Independent States. And like those whom He set free in Egypt and Philadelphia He gave us one more thing to ensure that freedom: each other. The Jews in Egypt needed each other to make it to freedom on that Passover night. Our nation’s founders needed that “mutual pledge to each other” to see their vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness realized. God puts people in our lives because the connection in those relationships is the key to our freedom.
So if you’re struggling today, if addiction or emotional pain are holding you captive, if you want real freedom on this Independence Day, reach out to others. Give up on the “just me and God” plan that isn’t His plan and hasn’t worked for you anyway; ask someone for help. God has put people in your life to lead you to freedom; He’s ready right now for you to take that first step to connect with people around you, those who care about you. Make July 4, 2007 your Passover Night, Independence Day, and Resurrection Sunday all rolled into one. A year from now–and God willing each year after that–you may find yourself reflecting back, asking yourself, “Why is this day different than all other days?”