dependence, freedom and liberty for all … a contrary viewpoint

May you and yours have a happy and blessed July 4th!!!

(Disclaimer: This post is over 1200 words long and as such is definitely not a quick read … what can I say? It may be long but it was definitely what I was convicted to write.  So if that’s just a bit too long for a blog post from your perspective, I value your time too … so just skip it.  If the topic looks interesting to you, then you may want 10 or so minutes to read and consider … you might even want to bookmark it and come back later.  As always, thanks to each of you for your consideration, your reading, your comments on the blog … you are appreciated!)

Today is July 4th … and in the United States of America it is patriotically and affectionately known as Independence Day.  On this date in 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence announcing that the thirteen colonies were declaring their independence from the British Empire.

Note these opening words to the preamble of that document …

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.

Do you see anything in those words that seem contra-biblical?

We spend a lot of time and effort wishing we could go back to the beginning of this nation and re-experience the greatness that once existed and currently seems to be crumbling … but it seems to me that there were cracks in the foundation even as it was being laid … despite the best efforts of the great  Christian saints doing the building.  Let’s start with the concept of Life

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, AND THE LIFE; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  John 14:6 (NASB)

I don’t really think that’s the Life the preamble is describing … yet is there truly another life that matters?  And is the liberty described above the liberty found in the Spirit of the Lord?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NASB)

And note this warning from Paul about those would try to hinder the liberty we have IN Christ Jesus … and bring us into bondage …

But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.  But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.  Galatians 2:4-5 (NASB)

I would recommend going and looking up the definitions of both liberty and freedom and then ask yourself if you really have that in the U.S. or is it (and they are truly one in the same) found only IN Christ Jesus?

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1 (NASB)

And from a perspective of a Christian, is freedom truly focused on self or is it focused on others?

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  Galatians 5:13 (NASB)

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.  1 Peter 2:16 (NASB)

So from a Declaration and Constitution perspective, is freedom and liberty intended to serve the individual or to serve others?

And what about this pursuit of happiness …  in the NASB NT, this is the sole reference to the word happy.  The ESV has no references to the word happy

The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  Romans 14:22 (NASB)

The KJV has a number of references to the word happy and what warrants that emotion or feeling or state of mind: truth, serving one another, suffering for righteousness sake, suffering for the name of Jesus, that your name is written in the book of life, that those who once were lost are now found, etc.

Is happiness from a biblical perspective focused on me individually or is it God and others focused?  How about from the Preamble perspective above?

The Bible reveals that governments are established by God and receive their authority from God … NOT from the consent of the governed …

EVERY PERSON is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  Romans 13:1-2 (NASB)

Even Jesus acknowledged and submitted to Pilate’s authority over Him … despite the very fact that the government of the Roman Empire was indeed destructive …

So Pilate (Rome’s governor of Judea) said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?”  Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”  John 19:10-11 (NASB)

And a study of the NT will reveal that Paul also submitted to government of the Roman Empire despite its wicked and destructive nature just as Jesus did … note what Peter taught about masters who were unreasonable … who inflict unjust suffering  …

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.  Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.  For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  1 Peter 2:17-19 (NASB)

And that just leaves dependence (note … not independence …) … I would go back and reread what Galatians 5:13 and 1 Peter 2:16 have to say about freedom …

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2 (NASB)

Don’t misunderstand me … I do indeed love living in the United States … but the perception that we were once a somewhat “perfect” nation just doesn’t work … the good ole days were never as good as we like to think they were.  But I do find tremendous good intentions in the closing of the Declaration of Independence that do indeed seem to reflect many of the truths revealed in the passages of Scripture above …

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.

Unfortunately, as a famous saying so aptly reveals …

The road to hell is paved with the bricks of good intentions.

Just saying …

Bernie

About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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2 Responses to dependence, freedom and liberty for all … a contrary viewpoint

  1. Dawn says:

    Sent a link to this post to some people who don’t blog. Thanks for writing.

    • bwebbjr says:

      Dawn, thanks so much for taking the time to read and consider this post … I know it was a long one. And thanks for passing it along too.

      Bernie

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