The Library of Congress made an announcement in 2010 that there was a cross-out in the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. While processing data, Dr. Fenella France noticed that the word citizen was blurred. Using a process called hyper spectral imaging, she uncovered something truly significant about this document.
The process takes digital photos of an object and uses distinct portions of the visible and non-visible light spectrum to reveal what previously could not be seen by the human eye. In this case what was revealed was that Thomas Jefferson had re-written the phrase “our fellow subjects” crossing out the word “subjects” and replacing it with “citizens”. Jefferson recognized that there was a liberating distinction in being a citizen versus a subject. He was right. From that understanding a nation was born.
A copy of the Declaration of Independence is displayed on a wall in my home. It hangs in a place that allows me to see it every day as a reminder that the citizenship I enjoy in America came at a very high price. The men who comprised the Continental Congress and the people who envisioned freedom under the laws of God, were no longer willing to live as subjects of tyranny. Their belief that liberty is God-ordained was backed by their sacrifices and they forged a nation where extraordinary liberty would be the right of its citizens.
I am a citizen of the United States by birth. Yet according to the 3rd Chapter of Philippians, I have dual citizenship through new birth in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” (NIV) Penning those words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul encourages us to stand firm in the Lord. And so we should! For tyranny cannot prevail against the power of the One who came to liberate.
As I read the article about hyper spectral imaging and how it shed light on a word previously hidden, I couldn’t help but think how Jesus Christ, the One who is called The Word, came to liberate us from the hidden condition of being subjects to sin. He revealed what could not be seen by the human eye ~ the love and mercy of God. The king of kings had come to earth, not to be served, but to serve and to save. The mission of His love was to set captives free, to shed light in our darkness and fit us for heaven. The image of the invisible God was made visible in the Son, who shed His blood to secure our standing before the Father.
Here, though the battles of life rage on, we are no longer subjects to the tyranny of sin and death. We no longer need to be deceived or intimidated by tyrants who wish to make captives of free people. We have been liberated and granted dual citizenship that calls us to live with purpose. No matter what we face, we cannot be separated from the love of God, for we have been given new life now and a promised eternity. Paul said it well; “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
The Founding Fathers sacrificed all because they recognized that liberty is God-given and in that understanding, they stood firm against tyrants who sought to deny that power. The torch has been passed from generation to generation and this is our time to carry its light.
As citizens, how could we do less?