John Adams, First Vice President of the United States once said regarding the independence of his country:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. ” John Adams, First Vice President of the United States
Grenada became an independent nation on Feb. 7, 1974. Today we celebrate the 47th anniversary of this event. On that occasion the country was divided and the opposition, led by Herbert Augustus Blaize, travelled to England to protest the move to independence. When the time came there was darkness over the land because of strikes and unrest. That night there was no electricity and the event had to be conducted in the darkness. Nevertheless, the celebration took place and over the years we have all come to embrace and celebrate our independence. The preamble of our Constitution is as follows:
“Whereas the people of Grenada- (a) have affirmed that their nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the fatherhood and supremacy of God and man’s duties toward his fellow man ; (b) recognize that, inasmuch as spiritual development is of supreme importance to human existence, and the highest expression thereof, it is their aspiration to serve that end with all their strength and resources ; (c) firmly believe in the dignity of human values and that all men are endowed by the Creator with equal and inalienable rights, reason, and conscience ; that rights and duties are correlatives in every social and political activity of man ; and that while rights exalt individual freedom, duties express the dignity of that freedom ; (d) express their respect for the rule of law ; and since moral conduct constitutes the noblest flowering of their culture and their plural heritage, regard it as the duty of every man always to hold it in high respect ; (e) reiterate that the ideal of free men enjoying freedom from fear and want can be best achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and political, civil and cultural rights ; (f) desire that their constitution should reflect the above mentioned principles and beliefs which represent those high ideals upon which their nation is founded, and make provision for ensuring the protection in Grenada of fundamental rights and freedoms.”
The bible has much to say about freedom and independence although most of it has to do with that of the individual rather than of the nation. However, unless the individual is free, the nation cannot be truly nor fully independent. Here are some examples of the biblical teaching on independence and freedom:
Psalm 119:45 And I will walk at liberty: For I seek thy precepts.
Isaiah 61:1–3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; Because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. John 8:31–32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Romans 6:17–18 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:13–14 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
In the book of Genesis, we have the first example of a nation becoming independent after the people had been living in a land not their own and then enslaved for 430 years. Like Grenada under colonialism the people of Israel were under the dominion of the Egyptians. Along with other Caribbean countries this nation had been under colonial rule for over two hundred years. In the case of Israel God sent a deliverer, Moses, to lead them out after tough resistance from the ruler, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Sir Eric Matthew Gairy was the one who lead Grenada into independence. As the people of Israel travelled unto their own land God gave them their own laws to maintain order among them through the exercise of justice. The Ten Commandments comprised their constitution and from it flowed 613 other laws for their proper governance. Those commandments are the very foundation of the laws of nations even today.
After conquering the Canaanites and establishing herself as an independent nation, Israel went contrary to the laws of God and his covenant relationship with them. God warned her time and again through her prophets, but she refused to listen. This resulted in her loss of independence when other nations came against her and scattered her people among their empires; first, the Assyrians, then the Babylonians and later the Romans. The nation lived under Turkish rule until 1917 when the Turks were defeated by the British and Palestine came under British control. The Jewish people became subject to many nations within which they lived over the years and suffered persecution time and again. They were almost wiped off the face of the map by Hitler who killed six million of them in death camps.
After being under bondage for 2534 years Israel once again became an independent nation on May 15, 1948.
Caribbean countries, including Grenada, were emancipated after much struggle on the part of enlightened and godly men and women such as William Wilberforce, William Knibb, and the Clapham Sect. Independence only came years after emancipation, continued colonialism, and statehood.
But what does independence mean? “If a country has or gains independence, it has its own government and is not ruled by any other country.”
That country makes its own decisions regarding government, management of its own affairs including its foreign policy towards other nations.
An independent country has its own constitution or main law, as well as other laws which flow from it. It has its own courts or judicial system, makes its own legal decisions, and can choose its own friends. However, independence does not mean that a country does not need other nations. Even after independence Grenada and other Caribbean nations have retained the Privy Council in England as their final court of appeal or Supreme Court. They also trade with other countries and interact with them in international forums such as the United Nations. Grenada is also a signatory to several international conventions and treaties.
No man or nation is an island in the strict sense of the word. Nations have become inter-dependent on one another and so they exchange goods and service one with the other and even enjoy visiting one another’s countries. They could not survive otherwise. They are connected through economic unions such as the Eastern Caribbean and CARICOM. Caribbean nations share many things in common as they exchange political, social, and medical programs including their approach in dealing with the pandemic.
Independence places certain responsibilities on the citizens of a country. They are responsible to obey the laws of the land and promote its well-being. They also vote during elections and choose whom they want to hold high office in the land. They also need to develop themselves personally so that they can aid in national development. They should not leave the burden of the welfare of the country on government alone but should serve their nation as good citizens. They should watch out for one another and help those who are in need.
While a nation may be independent politically, it can still be in bondage spiritually. All men are born in bondage to sin and the devil since the time of Adam. This does not sound good to the people who make up a nation because we all like to think that we are free. The bible teaches that those who practice sin are slaves to sin. It is easy to see how the people of a nation are in bondage to sin. Why do we have laws for example? These laws are based on the fact, that people are sinners and need to be restrained from doing evil. In addition, regulations must be put in place to punish wrong doers and lawbreakers. Laws would be unnecessary if people were obedient and did what was right. There are laws regarding marriage, parental responsibility, murder, slander, or false accusation, and stealing. These laws are made to protect the lives, relationships, reputation, well-being, and property of others. Besides the laws, we have the courts or judicial system which try cases when the law has been violated.
For us to have an ideal society where law and order prevails, we need to be a nation where people are transformed by the power of the gospel and live lovingly one with another. That is why Jesus Christ came. He says, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall set you free you shall be free indeed.” Jesus Christ alone can set men free from sin because he died to pay the price of sin and deliver us from its bondage. He defeated the devil so that he may no longer control our lives. Only Christ a free our nation from the power of drugs, alcohol, immorality, witchcraft, and violence.
Grenada needs true freedom and independence. It can begin today as we celebrate another independence. Are you willing for your own good and the good of your country to turn away from those practices which endangers its future and yours? God is calling you to repent or turn away from sin and receive his Son in your life. Only then can you make a new beginning and lead your country into a glorious future.