This week we celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s birth of freedom. This historical moment occurred as a result of wise, committed leaders and followers pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to establish the greatest foundation upon which a nation and its people could build their families and future. It came as the result of many individuals who were seeking the right to worship the living Creator God without restraint from any earthy power, and the right of all citizens to pursue their hopes and dreams with liberty while exercising personal responsibility.
The founders clearly understood that all of our rights come from “nature’s laws” and “nature’s God.” They expounded on truths they deemed “self-evident.” As the Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal and have unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Our nation’s founders knew that true freedom can only be preserved by citizens who understand that freedom and liberty are not exactly the same.
As an example, animals and wildlife have freedom by their very nature: birds fly, fish swim, predators hunt. They don’t, however, have liberty with responsibility as do human beings. We can choose how we live and it is liberty that grants us this blessed privilege. A pack of wolves cannot be held responsible for killing vulnerable prey because that’s what they naturally do. They lack the conscience and wisdom necessary to make distinct choices. As human beings we have liberty and with it the great responsibility to choose wisely. Uncontrolled appetites and desires can become chains that bind us, robbing us of personal and even national freedom.
God-centered, Bible-believing founders clearly understood this and the absolute importance of living under control as responsible citizens in order to protect our liberty to make choices. It is also a fact that those founders considered to be deists understood the true meaning of liberty and freedom. They were ready and willing to give their lives to establish, protect, and preserve it. Even Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine believed God was involved in human affairs as “the supreme Judge of the world,” a reference which was stated in the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Paine, a purported atheist and author of Common Sense, which ignited the Revolution, wrote concerning the Supreme authority necessary to preserve our freedom. He said, “It is a fool only, and not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man that will live as if there is no God. Were a man impressed as fully and strongly as he ought to be with the belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of belief; he would stand in awe of God and of himself, and would not do the thing that could not be concealed from either.”
Basically, he was advising and encouraging men to live in submission to a higher power which requires the assumption of personal responsibility and self-control. This is liberty and the benefits true freedom affords us. It is not a promised “right” to foolish, irresponsible, indifferent, self-consumed citizens. The freedom we have been granted gives us the right to do what we should, not the right to do whatever we want. That would not be liberty, but rather license, rebellion, and lawlessness. This course will always lead to dangerous dependence on a source other than God, His wisdom, and the truth necessary to make and keep us free.
The freedom we have enjoyed is on trial and we are witnessing the destruction of it because too many Americans fail to understand the binding link between liberty and personal responsibility. As a result, true freedom is lost to another Pharaoh, Caesar, or other failed source. Because people reject the responsibility, privilege, and joy of personally loving our neighbors and gladly being our brother’s keeper, we find ourselves becoming dependent on an inadequate source. The American people appear to be choosing to trust in what the Old Testament called “the shadow of Egypt and of Pharaoh” rather than the shadow and shelter of the Almighty. Remember in the Old Testament, the children of Abraham (those of faith) said, “Away with God! Up with Pharaoh!” Bondage was the immediate result.
In the time of Christ, the crowds, including the children of Abraham, shouted, “Away with Jesus! Caesar is king!” Can you believe it? Well, it’s happening in our day. You may think what I am about to say is extreme, but hear it loud and clear: If the American people, the political leaders, the academics, the courts, and Congress do not pursue true freedom, we will no longer be celebrating its birth, but rather witnessing its death.
The future of freedom is in your hands and rests on your shoulders. Freedom must not die on our watch. If it does, it will be by our own hand because people who claim faith in God remain uninformed, indifferent, and uninvolved. We will have handed freedom over to the destroyer of life and liberty. God forgive us if we do! By prayerfully and boldly uniting together we can celebrate the rebirth of freedom rather than witness the death of it. The future is in our hands. Now is the time to stand up and be counted!