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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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A DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE

July 4 is Independence Day in the United States, a holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The story of America's quest for political and religious freedom is still capturing the hearts of many people world-wide. The idea of political independence is a noble one in the sense America's founding fathers perceived and pursued it. Americans hold as almost sacred the idea that all men have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and that, as expressed in another famous phrase, government should be "of the people, by the people, and for the people." In this sense independence is a good thing.

But wait a minute. Spiritually, the independent spirit is not good. The word independent is defined as "not subject to the authority of another; self-determining; disconnected; not affected or influenced in action, opinion, etc. by others; self-sufficient; self-reliant." These words describe an attitude that is exactly opposite of the way God calls us to live. In practical terms the independent spirit means "Do your own thing" and "Nobody tells me what to do, man!" A powerful passage in Philippians 2:3-8 reminds us the "independent spirit" is not the spirit of Christ: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." The world is full of self-determined people who are doing their own thing, doing it their way with little or no concern for what others or even God might have to say. That spirit has no place among God's people. The church of Christ was purchased by the blood, sweat and tears of One who, even though He was equal with God, refused the independent spirit which insists on having its own way. Jesus chose to depend upon and be obedient to God. Are you a follower of the crucified Christ? Such a profession demands that you make a "Declaration of Dependence" every day!

"I AM THE VINE, YOU ARE THE BRANCHES. HE WHO ABIDES IN ME, AND 1 IN HIM, BEARS MUCH FRUIT; FOR WITHOUT ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING" (JOHN 15:5)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ