From Memorial Day through Independence Day on July 4, there is a lot of celebration of our freedom in America. We pay homage on Memorial Day to those who died in battle to secure and protect our freedom. And on July 4, we celebrate our nation’s birth and freedom. Sandwiched in between these two patriotic holidays are the anniversaries of D-day on June 6 and the battle of Midway on June 4. By the way, this year is the 75th anniversary of D-day.
I look forward each summer to the patriotic season.
Our first thoughts of freedom might take us back to the Bill of Rights that James Madison penned, especially the first one. It includes freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly and to petition the government to right wrongs. This are wonderful freedoms that we should never take for granted.
Have you ever thought about how many millions live in nations that do not guarantee these freedoms? Indeed the U.S.A is so blessed, and we have every reason to celebrate.
Can our freedom, especially our religious/Christian freedom, be taken away, misused or even misunderstood?
There are those in our nation that are intent of taking it away as prescribed in the first amendment, and unfortunately, they are having some success.
Teachers that once were allowed to say grace with their class before heading to the lunchroom are no longer allowed to do so. Prayers before school sporting events have been all but banned. Gideons who for years gave New Testaments to fifth graders have been prohibited from doing so for the most part. In some communities, the nativity scene has been forbidden the public square.
Those who interpret the constitution and its amendments perhaps have misunderstood what our founding fathers intended by freedom of religion. It has almost come to mean freedom from religion.
As a nation, we must be vigilant to protect this freedom those 18 year olds died for storming Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy.
Some misuse freedom in the sense that it is a license to do whatever they want to do, whether it is good or evil. Did the young people who died in all wars defending our freedom do so for us to do right or wrong? In one sense we could say either. But considering the degree of their sacrifice, I submit that they would desire their sacrifice be for the freedom to do good and not evil.
While we are indebted to all those who gave their lives for our freedoms, ultimately the freedoms of the U.S.A. are from the Lord. And why do you think He has made us free? To misuse it?
Even though Peter is addressing believers at another time and place, there is some truth in what he said for a nation, including the U.S.A.: “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.” I Peter 2:16
In reference to the false teachers, Peter also said this, “They promise freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them. “II Peter 2:19
Paul likewise chided the Galatian believers not to misuse their freedom: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.” (Galatians 5:13) The flesh in the Biblical sense refers to our sinful nature. Paul enumerates some of the acts of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Has America misused her freedom to indulge the flesh? Look at Paul’s list of the acts of the flesh and you tell me. What if the time, energy, and money spent on “indulging” the flesh were directed towards spreading the gospel here in the U.S.A. and the nations of the earth? Do you think that it is possible, just barely possible, that it was for this purpose that the Lord has blessed us with such freedom?
Yes, freedom cost entirely too much to abuse or lose. Oh I hope, and oh I pray that will never happen!
Chip Warren is the past president of the Albertville Ministerial Fellowship.