The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to celebrate our first 100 years of independence. Lady Liberty is 305 feet tall--the height of a 22 story building. It arrived by ship in 214 crates and was painstakingly constructed in New York harbor.
Many of us remember the rededication of the monument in 1986. Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca headed an effort to raise money for extensive reworking. President Reagan superintended the ceremony of rededication. He lauded the American republic that is represented by the statue as a nation of "peace and freedom and hope."
Lady Liberty's arm clutches a tablet proclaiming a significant date in Roman numerals: July 4, 1776. This is the day the Declaration of Independence was read publicly for the first time in Philadelphia. The 56 signers of the document knew their act brought them into conflict with the British crown, and many paid dearly for their daring.
The recent HBO series, "John Adams," offered a fine re-telling of the heroism of Adams, a forgotten patriot. Adams was a diplomat, not a soldier, and he spent most of the war years in Europe trying to muster support for the colonies. He pleaded for more ships from France and loans from the Dutch and was often rebuffed. Still Adams persevered.
"Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right," he said.
This week we celebrate our 241st birthday as a free and independent nation. The freedom we've received, however, is fragile, and must be diligently maintained.
As Adams noted, "Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives."
For the Christian, the cross is another statue of liberty. The cross of Calvary yet stands as the centerpiece of history representing the greatest act of love the world's ever known.
The cross speaks of freedom from sin. The Bible insists "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10). But the cross tells us that God made the sinless one to be sin for us, that we might be made right in his presence (1 Corinthians 5:21). Scripture labels Christians "justified." This is a courtroom word that means "not guilty." God, through Christ, will pronounce us "not guilty" at the final judgment.
The cross also speaks of freedom from selfishness. We humans are naturally egocentric, caring for ourselves most of all.
Someone noted that when we're wrapped up in ourselves, we're a very small package!
Christ changes our focus so that we see people around us with new vision. We realize we're responsible to minister to and serve others in his name as our finest witness to the world.