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Posts Tagged ‘declaration of independence’

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Today America celebrates 240 years of independence. As many are inclined to celebrate with fireworks, picnics, and parades, the Forth of July also provides the perfect opportunity to look back on the document and the ideas that brought us to this place in time.

When one looks at the Declaration of Independence the emphasis is clearly on reasons to separate from England.  It also articulates the fundamental ideas that form our nation:  all men are created free and equal and possess the same inherent, natural rights. These rights are not imagined, decreed, or penned on paper by mankind, but found in the eternal “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” When rights are viewed and expressed as “God-given” the Declaration’s meaning transcends the particulars of time and circumstance.  It means that these rights are inherently possessed by all men because of the Almighty.

There are five references to God in the Declaration of Independence, two in the first paragraph, one in the middle, and two in the last paragraph.

As we continue our Fourth of July celebrations, may we take time to appreciate the idea that we are free people, but ultimately that our American freedom was born of God.

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Each Fourth of July we celebrate the birth of America.  We celebrate freedom, independence, and the precious rights that guarantee the blessings of liberty.  But it is important to remember how religious freedom was the original goal of living in our land.  And by that, I mean prior to signing the Declaration of Independence.

Christianity operated in a very different environment from what we know today.  Prior to the Pilgrims leaving England, there was no separation of church and state.  There was one official church for people to attend and the King was the head of the church.  During the 1600s, British law required citizens to attend worship services.  Those who did not attend would be fined one shilling for each Sunday and holy day missed.  People who conducted unofficial church services could be fined, jailed, or executed.

As persecution and arrests grew, the Pilgrims left England for Amsterdam.  By 1617 the congregation was stable enough for another, more permanent move.  They wanted an enduring place where opportunity and religious freedom could be secured for their families.  They turned their eyes to the new America, braved a sixty-five day voyage across the Atlantic, and started Plymouth Colony.

Days after sighting land, The Mayflower Compact was established as a way to honor God, guarantee just and equal laws in the colony, and create a free form of government.  The Pilgrims decided to establish a system where every member of the colony could enjoy guaranteed rights and freedoms under majority rule.  Freedoms that they were unable to enjoy until that very moment when the ink was dry.

Their voyage and vision created the first written constitution on our continent.  It became the seed of American freedom and democracy.

We often forget the past difficulties that Christians have faced trying to worship God.  We also forget the difficulties in our present age.  We have been so blessed with liberty in our nation, that we forget the inequalities that exist elsewhere.  While we are not fined, jailed, or executed for practicing our faith in America many others suffer across the globe.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the same fears, torment, and punishments of seventeenth century Pilgrims.

Recognize the incredible gift we have as Americans and utilize your religious freedom.  Glorify our risen Savior in song.  Strengthen your faith in a worship service.  Read your Bible in public.  But also take time to pray for the persecuted Church beyond our borders.  Their current plight was ours not so long ago.

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