By Guest Editorial Greg Howell
Pastor Community Grace Brethren Church 

Cherish the most important freedom of them all

 


I have seen the small chamber where the Second Continental Congress met early in the summer of 1776. The guide told us that the room was very warm because they kept the windows shuttered so that curious citizens (and Tories) wouldn’t know what was being deliberated. It must have been uncomfortable physically and emotionally to sever all ties with the known, and launch out into the totally unknown of self-governance, and begin the “American Experiment.”

I think the Founders would be very pleased that the American Experiment lasted this long nearly totally intact. But I also feel that they would be disappointed to see so much strife caused by self-interest. The beauty of Liberty is also its drawback—freedom for me requires that there is toleration for those not like me. How will historians record our times? As an era where liberty flourished, or as the time when the American Experiment ended?

Our strongest most united times in this country throughout our history have been when faced with challenges large enough to affect nearly everyone in the country at the same time, even if in different ways. Independence from Britain, Reconstruction after the Civil War, Pearl Harbor (which drew us into World War II), 9-11, and Hurricane Katrina are some of the major times that have caused us to pull together. And not just to rally against an outside enemy, but we joined our efforts together to take care of each other; friends, relatives, and strangers. We tended during those times not to be separated by ethnic, racial, cultural, economic, social, or even religious differences. We worked together as Americans, side by side with people “not like us” but very much also American citizens.

Some say America has seen its best days, never to be repeated. But it doesn’t take a President to make America great. They can’t do it alone. It takes each citizen doing their part, setting aside differences, prejudices, and self-interest for the betterment of others, their life, liberty, and ability to pursue happiness.

America is a great nation! Our greatness is the result of God’s blessing and the Founding Fathers’ following His guidance. The Founding Fathers did a remarkable job of creating our Republic. They said that “Providence” guided them. Even non-Christian Benjamin Franklin and deist Thomas Jefferson gave credence to God’s hand of protection and guidance in the forming of the United States of America. The core of our foundation is Judeo-Christian principles. And we function on the basis of the “rule of law.” Our laws are based on divinely inspired fundamentals, such as “the punishment must fit the crime,” “innocent until proven guilty,” “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and “do unto others as you would have them do to you,” as well as many others.

As we are celebrating our nation’s 243rd birthday, we should be thankful that America has lasted this long and that we can enjoy the freedoms and liberties precious to the Founders and to us. Freedom is strongest when we lovingly allow others to exercise their freedoms and they permit the same.

But the one freedom that cannot be taken away is freedom in Christ. When a person acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior, their heart changes and begins to desire God’s righteousness and God’s Kingdom. Outside circumstances can make following Christ easier or more difficult but cannot remove God’s power on the inside. Following Christ should cause us to extend the exercise of freedom and liberty for all.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

 

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