What does it mean to be American: Freedom

July 3rd 2012 No comments yet  

We asked pastor Les Fleetwood what it means to be American. Below is his compelling response:

In a word: Freedom.

236 years ago, on July 4, 1776, great men wrote and ratified the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson penned in sweeping terms this great sentence:

“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.”

What wonderful words: “Life”, “Liberty”, the pursuit of Happiness. In one word”¦FREEDOM.

After living in the United States for nearly 20 years as a resident, last year I took the oath, swore allegiance, and officially became a citizen of the United States. It was truly a powerful moment. At the oath ceremony I stared at the American flag, the symbol of my freedom. I was reminded of all who died to bring me liberty. But I also thought of a greater symbol of freedom brought to us by One who also died.

I remembered Galatians 5:1 which says “It was for freedom that Christ set us free”¦” His death, His sacrifice, has given us true freedom! Abundant freedom! Greater than the symbolism of our flag, when I see the cross, I’m reminded it was there that Jesus provided the way to be free from sin and death and separation from God. Our founding fathers spoke of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to God except through trusting in Me,” (John 14:6). It was on the cross and then three days later through His resurrection that Christ gave not just one country, but the entire world, the opportunity to receive the gift of forgiveness of sin and abundant life now, and the security of eternal life in heaven.

So the question becomes, how then should I live this new and abundant life as a Christian American citizen? 1 Peter 2:16-17 says this: “Christians, act as free men and women, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil; instead, honor all people, love other Christians, fear God, and honor the King.”

Here then is how I intend to live as a Christian who is free, based on those verses in 1 Peter”¦maybe these ideas will encourage you as well:

1. Honor all people: I will give preference to others over myself”¦sacrifice self-interest for the interests of others.

2. Love other Christians: I will honor all, but especially those in the family of God. Jesus said the world will know we are His followers when we love one another.

3. Fear God: I will deeply respect Him by obeying His word. In other words, doing the first two (honor and love) demonstrates respect for Him.

4. Honor the King: when Peter wrote this, he was under cruel Nero’s rule. But he wasn’t talking about honoring the person; he meant we are to honor the title, the office, of King. For today, this means it doesn’t matter if I happen to like or dislike our Presidents, senators, or mayors”¦I must honor the office they hold. As a Christian citizen, I give deference to the office of the leaders over us.

This Independence Day, we will celebrate freedom. We will see the flags and remember the sacrifices made to secure that freedom we so enjoy in America. But greater still, when we see the cross, may we always remember the greatest sacrifice ever made by Jesus Christ, and the ultimate freedom He has secured.


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