The preacher noticed little Billy was staring up at the plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.
The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the preacher walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Billy.”
“Good morning, Preacher,” Billy replied, still focused on the plaque, and then he asked, “Preacher, what is this?”
“Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the brave young men and women who died while in the service.”
They stood together, soberly staring at the plaque. Billy looked shaken. Finally, in a voice barely audible, he asked the preacher, “Which service ~ the 9:45 or the 11:00?” (1)
Silliness aside, today we celebrate America’s Independence Day ~ commonly known as the Fourth of July. Many fine men and women have sacrificed for our freedom, so we can enjoy the freedoms we have in the United States.
Independence day is associated with parades, picnics, barbecues, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and especially, fireworks. But the heart of Independence Day is the celebration of our declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. Actually, the war continued to rage for years, and was not formally ended until a treaty was signed on September 3, 1783.
We must never take our freedom for granted. As historian David Barton says, “We continue to be the longest on-going Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. Blessings such as these are not by chance or accidental. They are blessings of God.“ (2)
As Americans sought their independence from Great Britain, they declared their Christian worldview: their Creator, they said, had endowed them with certain “inalienable” (absolute) rights. Rights given to men by God. While it may be true that not every founder of this nation was a devout believer, our country was clearly founded on biblical values ~ Christian principles from the Word of God.
Sadly today, many of our leaders and politicians have all but thrown out these values and principles.
Our nation is suffering because of it.
The God that our forefathers looked to for guidance and protection is often scoffed at today, or simply dismissed as irrelevant. Secularism is tearing the fabric of our nation, and as a result, it is not only our foundational values that are being attacked, but also our economy, our families, and even our security.
Americans are a freedom-loving people, but today, many reject the source of true freedom. “So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.” (John 8:36, Amplified).
President Lincoln knew the foundation for America’s freedom, and he encouraged people to reflect carefully on their relationship with God. “It is the duty of nations, as well as of men [individuals],” Lincoln said, “to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” (3)
It is our joy to be Christians in a free land. Many would love this privilege!
We must unashamedly embrace our freedom in Christ and our Christian heritage. Our children and grandchildren need to see the power of the truth of God. Their future may depend on our faithfulness.
(1) Adapted from “My Little Sister’s Clean Jokes,” http://www.emmitsburg.net/humor/archives/clean/clean_10.htm