We are not a nation of kings; Freedom is a VERB
Our Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was ratified by Congress and signed on July 4, 1776. It proclaimed the dissolution of the American colonies from the British Crown. This day began the yearly celebration declaring we as a country are “not a nation subject to a king.” Instead we would be a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The principles contained within this sacred document have elevated America as the envy of the world. Freedom’s success is due to the actions and sacrifices of many individuals. In this instance, freedom is a verb.
Within the Declaration are grievances as to why the thirteen colonies refused to subject themselves to a king. The words in the preamble lay the foundation of democracy which has been adopted by many countries in the world:
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.
Abolitionists used this wording “all men are created equal” and the Scriptures to advance their cause for freedom of slaves. Abraham Lincoln quoted it in his 1863 Gettysburg Address. Lincoln signed an Executive Order freeing the slaves; however, slavery was not abolished until the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in 1865.
One hundred years would pass before the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 would grant every citizen equal access to schools, public facilities and the right to vote. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was a clear sign Martin Luther King’s dream had been realized that “a man would not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.” Public Law 94-142 (1975) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1989) extended equal access and rights to all Americans with disabilities.
More Government Control as Our Foundation in God Shifts
Each year our journey as a country moves us closer to “all men are created equal” — a just and noble cause. On the other hand, we are moving closer to what our Founding Fathers rebelled against — tyranny in the form of government control of our lives. With each passing year we have also removed the Judea-Christian foundations one stone at a time that have undergirded our rights and freedoms. As we move to make all men equal, we have also made man the center of the universe.
As Thomas Jefferson wisely pointed to God Himself as the giver of life and liberty and he questioned, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?” Ronald Reagan clearly warned, “If we ever forget that we are One Nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
His prophetic words coupled with Jefferson’s wisdom alert us that our foundation in God must not shift. He must remain the center of the universe.
Lessons from Watergate
Zoom forward to today. We have passed the 40th anniversary of Watergate, one of our nation’s greatest scandals—best known for the number of men indicted and incarcerated. The scandal itself ignited impeachment proceedings which eventually led to the first resignation of a US president in office. Watergate is a reminder to our nation that “no one is above the law” for we are not a nation of kings.
Simply put, power corrupts. When humans get into a position of power, our nature draws us towards our own selfish desires. Yet, the beauty of our government is the checks, balances, and limited power of the federal government designed by our forefathers to restrain the sinful, self-centered nature of man. We are a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We are not a nation ruled by the selfish desires of one individual.
Watergate is a reminder that we as a nation must always hold our elected officials to high standards. We must continue to examine the actions of those in office or we can’t uphold the system of checks and balances that is the lifeline of a free society. Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom rings true today, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for the people of good conscience to remain silent.” In his opinion the government must always fear the people and not the other way around. Accountability requires hard work. Hard work is required for those good people to speak loudly.
Scandals Continue Today
We live in a day when there are Watergates all around us—in government, business and the media. If we are to remain a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” we must have media who disseminate newsworthy information with truthfulness, accuracy, impartiality and fairness. This type of reporting is critical to our democracy. Today’s citizens and media must scrutinize every administration and resist playing politics, lest we be guilty of creating a king.
The Preservation of Freedom
The preservation of freedom is maintained through continual vigilance. Ronald Reagan’s most famous quote points to this truth:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We
didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for,
protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
As our nation is about to celebrate our 236th anniversary of freedom, we are at a crossroads. Will we remain One Nation under God? Will we learn from our past failures? Will we collapse from moral deprivation like civilizations before us? Or will we return to the gracious Hand of God that has preserved, enriched and blessed us? Returning requires action on our knees. Remember, freedom is a verb!
As someone who’s worshipped with believers in the underground church in Romania, China, and the Middle East, I encourage all of us to stand for freedom. Although these believers taught me my spiritual freedom in Christ can never be taken away, Luke 12:48 teaches us our accountability for our blessings and freedoms, “To whom much is given, much is required.” Oh, to realize our earthly freedoms are our gift from God which enables us to do His will.
The Real Meaning of Freedom
As the Fourth of July approaches, may we be ever mindful of His presence in our hearts and our blessed nation. It is my prayer that we as a nation would turn back to Him and realize that our freedoms were given to believers so that we might follow His call on our lives—not our own selfish desires. He is the only King that is worthy to rule and true freedom in Him can never be taken away.
If we desire earthly freedoms, we must be vigilant. I don’t want to be one of those grandparents who has to one day tell my grandchildren what America was like when men were free. As Ronald Reagan challenged us:
Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our
time, that we did everything that could be done. We finished
the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.
Promotion of equality, preservation of earthly freedoms, and the pursuit of true freedom by finding and following God’s will in our lives are clearly verbs that require action on our part. But never forget, it all started by the gracious actions of a loving, caring God. True freedom comes as we bow on bended knee before an almighty God, and never, never before men.