Here in the United States, this Tuesday will be our nation’s 247th birthday, and as Christians, we have the opportunity to reflect on our birth and life as a nation. The United States of America is the only nation in the world that was founded on a creed. Other nations were founded on the basis of common ancestry, geographic boundaries, or by the power of kings and emperors. But America is different. It was founded on a shared belief. What is that creed (belief) that is distinctive? It is the eloquent, profound, and simple statement penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence:
“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.”
The Christian influence in the birth of the United States is inescapable. Early inhabitants of our country were Puritans, who emigrated from England to gain the freedom to worship God as they saw fit. As our nation began to grow and form a united government among the original thirteen colonies, reliance on Scripture and the Christian faith was unconcealed. Here are just a few of the many quotes that are available to validate this observation:
“It is impossible rightly to govern the world without God and the Bible.”
“The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”
“The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: ‘that God governs in the affairs of men.’ And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”
“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
Our nation is no happy accident. It is evidence of what God will do through a people willing to follow the truth He revealed in Scripture. Certainly, our nation is now in a major battle for the soul of our country. There are secular and spiritual forces eroding and diluting our memory of, and commitment to, the biblical principles that once dominated western culture. Even elected officials have openly convinced people to despise their country and take God out of schools, rather than have a healthy love for God and country.
Speaking of love, Jesus Christ was without question the most loving human being who ever lived. He always personified the pure love of God. That is because his burning love for all men was centered on Truth. He is The Living Truth. Never forget that Truth defines love, and every other biblical concept. Without the Truth of God’s Word, people wander aimlessly through life . The Bible shows us that Jesus was unmovable and completely grounded on God’s revelation to mankind.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Since the birth of our nation, the forces of evil have been at work to achieve their goal of enslaving us and our freedoms, especially as Christians. The good news is that our individual freedom in Christ cannot be diminished if we choose to cleave unto our Lord Jesus and walk in his steps.
Jesus is our “Prince,” our “Captain,” and the “Author” of our salvation. He paved the way for Truth, and as his followers, we are to live life according to the one who instituted life – God. Living life the way God intended life to be lived will always take us to our desired destination. As the risen Lord and Head of the Body, Jesus inspired the writers of the Christian Scriptures to echo his passionate desire for Truth.
2 John 1:1-4
“The elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.”
3 John 1:1-4
“The elder, to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
What each of us is called to do is to be true to Truth, that is, practice it faithfully. Ask yourself, “why do I study the Bible?” Is it for more head knowledge or is it for heart change? What is the point of knowing God’s Word if we do not endeavor to live it out. The practical application of Truth in our everyday lives will bear good godly fruit, which can be evidenced within our marriages, families, and friends. Of course, the opposite is true when Truth is an aid to devotion or just an intellectual exercise. I am much more inclined to listen to those who are sincerely and reverently seeking to hear from God more than I am those who have textual brilliance.
Jesus so perfectly applied the Truth in his life that he could say, “I am the truth.” Here is his vision for us:
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
Is your growing love leading to godliness through proper priorities, integrity, living in light of Christ’s coming, and bearing the fruit of righteousness, so that your life results in glory and praise to God? Let’s all apply Paul’s prayer first to ourselves, and then let’s pray it for one another. If we grow in love rooted in true knowledge and discernment, we will avoid the winds of false doctrine that are blowing so many off course in our day.
When the fireworks go off in celebration of our Independence Day this week, let them remind you to be grateful to God for the freedom and opportunity we have in our country. Let them remind you to be grateful to the men and women of our armed services who serve this country tirelessly to protect those freedoms. But also, let them remind you that freedom on this earth, while indeed so very precious, is nothing compared to the spiritual freedom which we have forever in Jesus. His work in the hearts of humanity is what brings true freedom. So, let your celebration transcend the 4th of July to include a celebration of your freedom in Christ, and shinning as a light in this dark world.
In Christ’s love,