So much of our life depends on keeping things in perspective.
If you have a terminal disease, reminding yourself of the joys of eternal life is a desperately needed life-preserver (if you are in right relationship with God through Christ). It makes the pain bearable. For the rest of us, it’s important to keep in perspective the “half full cup” of the blessings of life rather than dwell daily on the “half empty plate” we all experience.”
Perspective is vital.
I remember the last basketball game of my high school career. After riding a fourteen game winning streak into the final eight of the state tournament, we got slaughtered by forty points! As I stood on the floor to accept the consolation trophy–my three year dream of a state championship shattered–God quietly reminded me it was only a game. That “perspective” helped me move on into the more important events of my life.
To help you celebrate America’s Independence Day this year, there are a number of things to keep in perspective to fill the holiday with meaning. The 4th of July is much more than a day off work, a barbecue with friends and family, and fireworks in the evening.
The 4th of July is meaningful because of five things that are essential to it:
- God – the day has no significance outside of His actions in United States history.
- The Bible – the true source of our American concept of liberty.
- The Declaration of Independence – our corporate “charter” as a people.
- The US Constitution – the political document that created a faith-based government.
- Freedom – which is the fruit of obedience to God.
Let’s examine these five pillars of America’s Independence Day.
There is no understanding the 4th of July outside of faith in God and his sovereignty. Thomas Jefferson, probably one of the least religious of our founding fathers was dead on when he said “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be sure once we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?” The resounding answer is NO.
The God of the Universe “favored the undertaking” of the Pilgrims, established Christian self-government in many of the early colonies, led the colonial founders to resist and defeat tyranny from Great Britain–and worked many miracles (including George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware) to allow the United States to become a uniquely established nation on Christian principles of government. As opposed to the atheistic and bloody French Revolution, the American Revolution was a revolution in biblical principles that God Himself providentially empowered.
There is no understanding American Independence without faith in God. He is its true Author.
America’s foundations as a two-hundred-and thirty-four year civilization–still young by historical standards–cannot be understood outside of its founding book–the Bible. It was the most read book in the America colonies. It was published by the government during the War for Independence. American pioneers and frontiersmen were known to carve out new territories with “the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.”
George Washington, the father of our nation, said these poignant words about the Bible in his farewell address to the nation in 1796: “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Two decades ago, Constitutional scholars and political historians at Georgetown University assembled 15,000 writings from the Founding Era (1760-1805). They counted 3154 citations in these writings, and found that the book most frequently cited in that literature was the Bible. The writers from the Foundering Era quoted from the Bible 34 percent of the time. Even more interesting was that about three-fourths of all references to the Bible came from reprinted sermons from that era.
America’s freedom had one primary handbook–the Bible. We need to its eternal wisdom.
This amazing document–whose signing and ratification we celebrate on the 4th of July–is really the founding charter of the American national experience. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, with help from John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman, it begins with these immortal words:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
It ends with this almost holy vow:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Read these vital words out-loud during your 4th of July gathering. Discuss their contents and meditate upon their meaning. Then “mutually pledge” your own lives for the rebirth of freedom in our land.
The US Constitution
There is rightfully much talk about the Constitution in our day. During the Elena Kagan hearings, the subject will be continually brought up as the senators determine whether Ms. Kagan will be a strict constitutionalist or a liberal judicial activist.
The US Constitution is really the political expression of Christian principles. It is America’s handbook for Christian self-government that, according to W. Cleon Skousen, was The 5,000 Year Leap in bringing freedom and dignity to human society. Skousen quotes many founders on the beauty and efficacy of the United States Constitution:
George Washington: “The adoption of the Constitution will demonstrate as visibly the finger of Providence as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it…The Constitution approaches nearer to perfection than any government hitherto instituted among men.”
Benjamin Franklin: “The Constitution was in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omniscient, and beneficent Ruler in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being” (a quote from Acts 17:28).
John Adams – “The Constitution is the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen…I have repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obligations to support the Constitution…What other form of government can so well deserve our esteem and love?”
Benjamin Rush – “the hand of God was employed in this work (ratifying the Constitution) as that God had divided the Red Sea to give passage to the children of Israel or had fulminated the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai.”
James Madison –The happy union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution is a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world. Woe to the ambition that would meditate the destruction of either!” Happily for America, happily we trust for the whole human race, the founders of the nation pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution that has no parallel in the annals of human society…They formed the design of a great confederacy which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate.”
If you don’t have a pocket “Constitution” to study, get one. Ponder it’s simplicity and beauty (it’s not a 2000 page Congressional bill monstrosity), and commit to “improve and perpetuate it.”
The biblical reference inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia which was well known to the early American colonists was Leviticus 25:10:
“Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan” (New Living Translation).
Here’s how our ancestors viewed the often-distorted definition of freedom. When one submits to God through faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit produces freedom in the human heart which leads to morality, self-government (self-control), and thus limited civil government to manage human affairs.
This biblical equation of success made the United States an exceptional nation: God, Freedom. Morality. Strong families. Hard work. Small government. Blessing, security and prosperity.
Sadly, in our day, the American equation is being perverted to: Removal of God. Pessimism. Immorality. Dysfunctional families. Welfare. Big Government. Problems, National weakness, recession, and a falling standard of living.
There needs to be a rebirth of freedom in America again that is trumpeted to the ends of the earth.
This Independence Day, don’t just sit around eating hotdogs and watching the fireworks. Keep these five pillars in mind, and establish them in your perspective on the day. Here’s a final summary:
1. Worship God! (not America, the Declaration, the Constitution etc.).
2. Read and obey the Good Book.
3. Be grateful for our magnificent Declaration.
4. Honor and adhere to the Constitution in your citizenship practices.
5. Live and die for true freedom, not encroaching tyranny, in our generation.
Happy Fourth of July.