An essay by Samuel Adams in the Boston Gazette dated 1771 states: "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood and have transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us . . . without a struggle or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."
Wow! 396 years ago, a small band of courageous men and women stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock. Months of hardship and much loss of life were among the sacrifices made in order to achieve religious freedom in a new, uncharted land. For 150 years, this "new frontier" flourished, colonized by the British empire and strengthened by the blood, sweat, and tears of noble individuals who believed that freedom was worth the risk, hard work, and sacrifice.
BUT, control by the British crown increased during that first century and slowly began to choke off some of the freedoms that these folks had risked their lives to attain. It has always been true that as the size of government increases, the true freedom of the governed decreases. So, small groups of colonial citizens began to rebel with such tactics as the famed 'Boston Tea Party.' Thus was born the American spirit . . . a prevailing attitude that was absolutely instrumental in winning our freedom. This spirit, perhaps the most formidable weapon employed by this rag-tag army of colonial rebels, became known as the "Spirit of 76."
In the spring of 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Franklin, Madison, Hancock, and Henry. Adams and Jefferson, too. They were all there. The course of action taken that spring literally changed the course of the world. It was there that Patrick Henry said, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death." Thomas Jefferson penned these words: "The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy it but cannot disjoin them."
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was presented and proclaimed its foundation in this way: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Note that phrase, "endowed by their Creator." With all of their faults, with all of their flaws and character quirks (we all have them), with all the shadows that loomed over their private lives, these men recognized that the true Source of their life and liberty was God. A new nation was born. A nation that would become the greatest civilization in the history of mankind. From the lives of our young men to benevolent needs across the world, no other civilization has ever given so much to defend and help the poor, the weak, the defenseless.
In the last full paragraph of the Declaration, the framers stated, "We therefore . . . appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions . . ." Are you familiar with that word, "rectitude?" Its definitions are "quality or state of being straight; moral integrity; the quality or state of being correct in judgment." Throughout the process, these flawed men sought the wisdom of God. Then, by affixing their signatures to that document, they each pledged their lives, the honor, and their fortunes to birth a new nation. That war for independence cost 5,000 patriot lives.
Freedom has never been free. It always requires sacrifice and perseverance. It is tempered with responsibility and respect. It flows from the hearts of people, NOT the halls of government. And it is NOT to be taken lightly. We are privileged still to live in a great nation, this United States of America. But as citizens of heaven, we have an even greater responsibility, given by Jesus Himself, to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14-16) God is waiting for US to stand in the breach and intercede for a nation that He desires to bless. (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)
SO, this Independence Day, amidst the Bar-b-ques and ball games, the late morning brunch and the late night fireworks, consider spending some time in God's presence and renewing yourself regarding these commitment:
PRAY - Become a prayer warrior for our nation. Yes, we have issues and yes, our choices in this critical election year might seem distasteful, but WE are the ones to whom the responsibility is given to intercede for our leaders, our warriors, our children, and our grands. I Timothy 2:1-4
BE CHRIST-LIKE - Whatever happens, whoever is elected, whoever is "in charge," remember that there is no authority in place anywhere that is not allowed there by God. Romans 13:1 So our responsibility is to follow the admonition of Philippians 1:27 -- "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."
BE INVOLVED - Salt that remains in the salt-shaker is of little value. We are called and commissioned to be the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13) We cannot positively affect the world by withdrawing from it. So be an involved, principle-based, values-based participant in our culture. Biblical principles and values communicated with a Christ-like authority in the arena of debate and in the voting booth. Pray, Be Christ-like, and Be Involved. And leave the results to God.
HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!! And remember . . . If anyone asks you if they have a fourth of July in England or France or Canada, the answer is yes. But it's just that --- the fourth of July.
IF you want to read the Declaration of Independence in full, go to www.ushistory.org/declaration