Independence Day, a.k.a. the Fourth of July, is a United States federal holiday commemorating the signing and ratification of the Declaration of Independence.
Sitting in a church fellowship hall, commemorating an anniversary of two people who had dedicated fifty years of life to each other I watch the line of a couple hundred people shuffle around the buffet tables. Three days before America is to celebrate its 236th year of Independence, we sit in what served as the main structure of this church for 91 of those years. These two individuals have dedicated themselves to each other for fifty years, but have dedicated themselves to God and this church for countless more than that.
Staring at my plate, I grab a quick little morsel of chicken casserole. Four little food-stabbing devices peer out from the end of the handle, so I increase the bounty by piercing a chunk of fried chicken. I then twirl and swirl this concoction through the flavorful juices known to all southerners as chicken and dumplings.
“Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmmm,” I think as my taste buds are in overload from the trio of chicken produced flavors I just ingested on one fork. This one bite represents freedom, Baptist-style.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”—the Declaration of Independence.
The United States of America’s founding fathers’ dream was that all men should be free to pursue happiness, freedom and their own life. Whether conservative or liberal – whether Republican or Democrat, tea drinkers or other political party – we all must admit that America has traveled a long way from the cry for independence quoted above.
Men (and women) “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” however the Creator and those rights He gives all humans are assaulted by the same government bodies that first acknowledged them. Don’t forget the ways the Creator has been attacked, misconstrued, used for political gain, diluted, downplayed, up-played and then ignored by those seeking power in our political machine.
Most of us would agree, that there are those who strike freedom at every opportunity they have. Whether liberal or conservative, they all answer to their own ambitions, not God’s will for their lives or our country.
It was C.S. Lewis who said, “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive…”
Americans have been stripped of many freedoms they believe they have and stifled out of practicing other freedoms because exercising such might offend someone else. I find it ironically atrocious that the Ten Commandments hanging up in a small school in Appalachia can offend someone halfway across the country into suing to have it removed, even when the parents of the children at the school, the administrators at the school, the community around the school and others in the local jurisdiction aren’t offended by it at all. In this and many other instances, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has made it their mission to give small groups of individuals the right to dictate the freedoms of the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong, it was great when these groups were instrumental in gaining equal rights to vote, equal rights to seats on the bus and other equality movements. But now it seems these days those groups spend more time trying to attack our differences in an effort to make us all scared-into-neutralism, not freedom.
Americans are more afraid to exercise freedom because it may offend someone else. People, it isn’t illegal to offend someone. It isn’t illegal for someone to smoke within 3-feet of the Wal-Mart door that my non-smoking 2-year-old, 4-year-old and 8-year-old have to walk through, even if it offends me and makes me cringe a little on the inside. It isn’t illegal for illegal immigrants to gather on courthouse lawns with flags of their home countries, while claiming they have the right to be called American in their native language, not traditional American English. These attorney groups like the ACLU rush to defend the American rights of non-Americans who don’t want to be Americans, they want to turn America into their own country. These attorney groups rush to defend the rights of homosexuals to stand in the street and parade, but let a group of heteros get together, put on our single-colored, non-rainbow striped pants and scream at the top of our lungs, “We’re here; we’re straight; deal with it.” (All of our families immigrated from somewhere, so don’t get your multi-colored panties in a bunch. I’m not trying to offend; I’m just making a point.)
Seriously, where is the attorney multi-lettered group that stand up for those rights?
“… those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
of their own conscience,” Lewis continued.
But who says it’s for our own good? Why must we all be neutral and afraid to say what’s on our mind; afraid to express our freedom? While our freedom to express freedom publicly is under bombardment, they can’t take away the freedom of our spirit.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Corinthians 3:17 (New International Version).
I think that was kind of what the founding fathers were leaning toward when they talked about Human-Americans having been “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Once you have the freedom of the Spirit of God, it can’t be taken away. While openly exercising our belief in Christ may be unpopular and offensive to some that unalienable freedom cannot be taken away. Sure, there are those in the Bible who were imprisoned for speaking and teaching about Christ, but the freedom from sin Christ gave those individuals is so powerful that they still spoke of, wrote of, and preached of this freedom in the spirit all the way to the end of their lives.
Freedom from sin cannot be taken away.
Jesus himself said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” – John 10:29, 30.
God has given us ultimate freedom – freedom to accept Christ and forgiveness of sin, or to deny it. But accepting Christ’s freedom and forgiveness of sin does give us a “Get out of Hell free” card but it doesn’t give us a “Get out of Sin free” card.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature” – Galatians 5:13.
Similarly, the Apostle Peter wrote, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” – 1 Peter 2:16.
Just as our founding fathers wished that no one should take advantage of their brother to express their own freedom, God doesn’t want us to take advantage of forgiveness and continue to live in sin. But what are we to do with our newfound forgiveness, our newfound freedom?
Well, that’s simple. Jesus taught us this lesson over and over in His time here on Earth and Peter reiterated what we are supposed to do with our freedom.
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the King” – 1 Peter 2:17.
Father God, we thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sins and iniquities. We thank You for giving us best freedom of all, which is the freedom of Spirit. We cannot do anything on our own that would provide freedom from our sins, and we thank You for freely giving us the Way to receive Your forgiveness. We thank You for allowing us the opportunity to truly live as free people by accepting Your love; Your forgiveness; Your freedom. Amen!