Happy 245th Birthday America!
I believe that being a citizen of the United States of America is one of the most wonderful things a person can claim. This is a nation that was founded for the freedom of religion as well as an opportunity to live life more economically successful.
As I read some of the history about why people risked their lives on such a long and difficult journey to travel to America, I learned some things that were new to me. Apparently a large number of people had fled England a full decade earlier to the Dutch Republic where they were able to enjoy their religious freedom. But they had survived in England as farmers and in the Dutch Republic were laboring in textile factories and living in abject poverty. They also were seeing their children influenced negatively by the secular society where they lived. So, they turned their eyes to America in 1620 and took their chance for a better life.
As the nation grew and developed there was a need for more order. So, the founding fathers wrote the Constitution – a document established as a set of laws to help govern the new nation. It was critical to help the citizens live a life of peace and order. They also spelled out the duties and powers of the branches of government and the leaders. There are currently 27 amendments to that Constitution and I firmly believe the first one is the most important.
”The First Amendment famously protects freedom of speech”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“The First Amendment lays out five basic freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition the government.”
“These rights were important to establish because they ensured that individuals could think, speak, and act without fear of being punished for disagreeing with the government.” *
While researching for my July 4 story, I came across an article that was so cynical I could hardly believe it was written by a citizen of this nation. It is not that every fact he spoke was false, but it seems he believes that there is no way the negative things can possibly ever be overcome. He says that as we celebrate July 4th that we are celebrating our “non-existent freedom”; and, he talked about how freedom is so sought after, but “never” attained. I found his writing (and I have barely touched on all that he had to say) to be very sad and wonder why he remains in this country if he believes all of the horrible things he wrote about?
Another article I read was also very cynical and disturbing – written by an educated man that has served this nation at a high level. He believes this could be the last time we ever celebrate this holiday in America. Maybe he is right – I cannot say. But here again, why is he so hopeless that he cannot believe things can change? (I am not going to “recognize” either of these men by name because I would hate for anyone else to read all of their hatefulness that offers no hope.)
Is America a perfect nation? Absolutely not! Have we had many freedoms taken from us as the nation evolved over the last 245 years? Absolutely! Are we daily seeing more and more of our freedoms – especially freedoms that are supposed to be guaranteed to us by the First Amendment of our Constitution – eroding before our very eyes? Unfortunately, yes we are! But is that a reason to give up? Is that a reason to just roll over and let things fall as they may? Is that a reason to feel totally hopeless? Absolutely not!
I then turned to an article from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Some of the items in the article were from the wonderful evangelist Billy Graham himself and what he had to say about this holiday. What a difference from those other articles! The gist of what he had to say in five points is this:
(1) God wants us to be free – free from all of the destructive things that the world can offer to us – things that can and will drag us down. God has given us total freedom – He created humans, not robots or puppets. We can use that freedom to indulge in things that can ruin our life, not only in our time here on earth, but for eternity. If we choose to believe and trust in Him, following the good teachings left for us to embrace, then we will know the truth and we can then indeed truly be free. John 8:31-32 (NLT) says: “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (2) Although our elected and appointed government officials have much power over us, they are not the ultimate power. God has the final authority over all His creation; and He instructs us to pray for all the people that have authority over us. I know, it can be really difficult at times to do that – but, we should anyway. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (TPT) says: “ Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. And pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts.” (3) As dismal as things can appear to be in America at times, we only have to look to some other nations with leadership that oppresses their population, to appreciate what we have. We cannot stick our heads in the sand as though everyone, everywhere has the same freedoms. In some countries there are Christians that are being persecuted and/or tortured and/or even slaughtered for their beliefs. That should be enough to make us do what is required to be done to protect our freedoms. It should also spur us on to pray for believers of Christ around the world. Persecution is certainly nothing new. Jesus’ disciples were persecuted. Jesus Himself was persecuted for teaching the truth to the masses – He warned that it can be expected. John 15:20a (NIV) says: “‘Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.’” (4) Has God given up on us? Has He abandoned us? In the article I read by Billy Graham, he points out that there is always that possibility, because it certainly happened – more than once – in Biblical times. For example, the Judean king and his leaders had escaped to Jerusalem in fear of their enemy Shishak; and, a prophet went to them and said: “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have abandoned me, so I am abandoning you to Shishak.’” 2 Chronicles 12:5b (NLT) When Graham wrote the specific article I am referencing it was a number of years ago and he did not believe that God had abandoned America. But I am not so sure that is still the case. If you read my article from last week you already know that I believe God has lifted His hand of protection from our nation and we are under judgment. I could be wrong. But things seem to point that way to me, based on the rampant evil we see every day. The very idea that we are floundering because of our sinfulness, should drive us to our knees, begging God for forgiveness and attempting to live better ourselves and for the whole of America. (5) Twelve years ago Billy Graham wrote this: “…our nation is in danger of forgetting God, and turning away from the moral and spiritual principles that made our nation great. We’re in danger of forgetting that freedom doesn’t mean we can do anything we want to. It must be linked to a sense of right and wrong, and a concern for justice and the needs of others. If we lose sight of these, we will end up in moral and spiritual chaos.” This sounds frightfully current, does it not? But do not forget – it is never too late to change things. I firmly believe it has to begin with me and you and all the other believers in our nation. This is no time for procrastination or passing the buck – waiting for someone else to do it. It is the time for us to recognize our own individual failures that played a role in what is happening. Then we need to humble ourselves, get on our knees and ask for forgiveness and guidance. As I quoted in my article last week, herein lies the answer, with the Lord Himself appearing to King Solomon saying: – 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) “‘Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.’”
Today as we celebrate this wonderful nation of America and the freedoms we still enjoy, we should make a commitment to take seriously the freedoms we have as Christian believers. Then we should shoulder the responsibility that freedom puts on us and do our duty to help maintain what we have.
Let freedom ring!
Written by Karran Martin – July 3, 2021
*Source for the quoted material about the first amendment: