Recently, many Americans celebrated Independence Day with cook-outs, a day at the beach, picnics or taking a family drive — all for a day of rest and relaxation.
America’s first Independence Day, 238 years ago, was much, much different.
While millions of folks raised their tongs to grill steaks, hot dogs and hamburgers this past July 4th, our forefathers raised muskets. Today, our biggest threat is overeating and sunburn. Then, the men camped out and wondered what the morrow would bring. Death by musket ball? Or disease? Or amputation?
The Declaration of Independence makes a startling statement. In it, the Founding Fathers acknowledge God, and that true freedom comes from him, along with “certain “inalienable rights … life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The gift of freedom is as life-sustaining and life-destroying as fire. Controlled fire provides light and energy for warmth and cooking. Uncontrolled fire scorches everything in its path.
As Americans, we have the freedom to pursue education, choose our careers, spouses and where we want to live. We can live peaceful lives, in harmony with friends, neighbors and family.
But, freedom can also be abused through exploiting the weak, despising the poor, disrespecting the elderly or mentally ill. Or even through dissention with believers who don’t hold the exact same doctrines, or character assassination through gossip.
Truly successful people have causes outside of their own personal interests. Recently, the owners of Hobby Lobby put their entire future on the line, fighting for the cause of the unborn. They fought legally, and without malice. And won.
As disciples of Jesus, we too, have a cause: Paul says that we are to be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children because we live in a corrupt and sinful world. We must shine among these people as stars lighting up the sky as we offer them the message of life (Philippians2:15, 16)
America may still be thought of as the “Land of the Free,” but people all around us are enslaved, sometimes cloaked in multiple piercings and blue hair with black lips and nail polish. Do we recoil when we meet these people, or see them through God’s eyes — all the way to the broken spirit within?