Every July 4th, Americans have the joy of celebrating freedom. It is a gift of nearly incomparable worth and this honored day is meant to commemorate the blessing of liberty.
A longing of people the world over, in America liberty became reality as a Republic. But, as Benjamin Franklin admonished after the signing of the Declaration of Independence July 4th 1776, only “if we can keep it”. The ink had barely dried on that document before schemes were devised to challenge such independence; for a nation declaring responsible, individual liberty as a God-given right posed a great threat to men with the desire to rule. Such are ever-present and so must be the resolve to defeat them.
Having lived for so long in a Constitutional Republic, we are prone to forget how high a price has been paid to gain and keep liberty. Each 4th, the color and pageantry of fireworks delight us as we sit on blankets and lawn chairs gazing into the night sky. But this event is so much more than entertainment. These sights and sounds are reminders of battles fought and freedom won.
What we celebrate in comfort was instituted in sacrifice. By signing the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers understood their stance could cost them their comfort, their fortunes and their blood. They saw beyond the moment, beyond their interests alone and the light of liberty was lit. Through the generations, many have defended it with equal sacrifice and we owe them not only our gratitude, but our resolve.
True liberty is not possible apart from God. There is a relationship between faith and freedom which George Washington recognized from the start. “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” His statement has proven itself. For the greatest liberty is found in Truth and men who govern with such knowledge assure liberty for all. Force is not freedom and the Christ of Scripture is the example by which men of good will pattern their character.
Today, we face orchestrated discontent and corruption that has filtered into chambers where those elected to serve the people battle instead for personal power. Many have become discouraged and wonder if men of Godly character are still with us. They are, though their numbers are few. Perhaps the reason lies with us. Are “we the people” still of Godly character? Do we long for liberty as God ordained it and strive to keep it?
Liberty is more than our personal comforts. Though our Republic guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are also called to defend that which is right; to think, to speak and stand for truth. Undaunted by threats, liberty calls us to press on.
We have a history of Godly men and women who trusted themselves to Jesus, the One to whom all authority belongs. He paid the ultimate price to liberate people from death to life. There aren’t enough fireworks on earth to celebrate this unequaled blessing nor are there mortal powers capable of erasing it, but each generation must rise to the call.
Therefore, our commitment to liberty cannot be passive. Striving for anything less than the Creator’s design weakens us. For men of cunning will declare themselves superior in form or fashion and convince the unwise to relinquish their natural rights.
The Apostle Paul once craved power. His desire was to rule over others. It was his encounter with Christ that transformed him from an oppressor to a liberator. Finding truth, Paul ultimately penned these words:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
That is the passion of freedom. That is the passion of Christ. May it be ours for generations to come.