Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for allowing us to live in a reasonably free country. Thank You for allowing us to freely worship You without fear of reprisals. Thank You for blessing America in and through and because we Christians are its preservative. And thank You most of all, for freeing us from sin and evil by Your forgiving love. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF ALL TRUE FREEDOM
TEXT: John 8: 31b-32: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Some of my ancient relatives were enslaved. So were most of yours. Freedom is a sweet blessing and it’s hard to maintain. Even today almost all of us are “owned” by someone or something other than ourselves. Your house probably owns you. Likewise, your debt load. If you’re sick, the medical establishment can own you and your time pretty quickly. Fear and depression own a lot of people, too. True freedom is hard to come by.
America was founded upon the principles of: freedom. One of our founding documents says that: “All people are endowed by their Creator with: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But alas, sin in its many forms gets in the way of that and burdens us with servitude to the banks, various creditors, and obligations just pile up and weigh us down. Such freedom can soon become a drudge. Maybe that’s why Ben Franklin once said: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”?
The American painter, Norman Rockwell , once painted 4 portraits for the cover of the “Saturday Evening Post.” They depicted what he called: the four freedoms. They were: Freedom of speech, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, and Freedom from fear. They all interlock, don’t they? If you cannot voice your opinion on an issue, you’re really not free. If you cannot worship God in spirit and in truth without someone preventing you from doing so, no real freedom. If hunger stalks your door, freedom is hard to find and live. And if you live in fear, the shackles of such fear will severely limit your life. These were all graphically portrayed by Rockwell in light of the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism. His point was that in America such freedoms are thought of as a God-given right—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without those 4 freedoms those words of the Declaration of Independence ring hollow. Without them the spirit of “76” is dead.
True freedom is an ideal that becomes a person’s reality only in and through and because of Jesus Christ. Yes, Christianity alone sets the soul of a human free! That’s because Christianity breeds hope. And true hope is eternal. It finds fruition in heaven. Governments can restrict your movement. They can tax away a certain amount of happiness. They can and do pass all sorts of laws which hinder how we live—sometimes for the good and often for the bad. But they cannot destroy eternal hope in Christ. And those are a few reasons we can be thankful we live in America where hope seems to spring almost eternally. Even pandemics and quarantines and economic malaise haven’t destroyed the 4 freedoms, yet. And as long as Christians remain faithful to Him thus serving as our country’s preservative, hope will shine forth and increase across our land. Yes, the future of America is not its technological ability but its strength of faith in God’s goodness personified in each of you. God has blest America because God has blest you.
Today is all about asking God to guide us into maintaining and enlarging our freedom as Americans. Learn from the past. Take the good and shun the bad from our history so as to not repeat past mistakes. Humans are imperfect We are imperfect. “All have sinned and fallen short of glory of God.” So today Christ tells us how to go forward as a nation and as individuals. Or, how to enlarge our freedom. He says: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
St. Paul reiterated it this way: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” That means the 10 commandments are extremely important as a mirror to our mistakes and failures. It means nations and people need to take them to heart to curb negative, hurtful, slavish impulses. And it means that if we so guide our lives and behavior, blessings will abound. That’s the meaning of the passage: “Righteousness exalts a nation.”
But the greatest source of such freedom from guilt and shame is: forgiveness found in God’s gift to us of a Savior. A Savior Who became a slave to our sins, taking them onto Himself and dying to such sin so that we could “become alive onto rightness with God.”
America needs to wake up to this fact. If your soul and conscience are not free from guilt and shame, you’re really a slave. You possess a slave’s mentality because you’re stalked by fear. But we’re Christians and Christ has taken all such fear, including death, away. He arose from our grave. So no matter whether your shackles are made of gold or iron; no matter whether you’re caged in a mindset of your own construction or one that others impose on you via “group-think” or social ostracizing, you really can be free. Embrace Him in humble faith, hold your head up in joy, and be proud to be an American and most of all: A Child of the Most High God because it’s the truth! Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH…..
Pastor Thomas H. Fox