It’s July 4th, a national holiday celebrating family and freedom. I’ve always looked forward to this day, because it means that my parents will host our family and friends, while watching fireworks light up the sky. But lately, I’ve been thinking about the root of liberty in our nation’s soil.
The Declaration of Independence claims “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as “unalienable rights.” This phrase is so often quoted, but do we ever stop to think about what it’s saying, and conveying about the God that our founding fathers served?
Life. The pinnacle of our nation’s ideology. The concept that anyone-regardless of race, gender, and social class-has the right to make a life for him or herself. We are free to grow and change and be.
Liberty. When Jesus died, He graciously offered us LIBERTY. He embodied freedom, and offered us eternal life and forgiveness for every one of our sins. There is no freedom greater than complete atonement. We should cherish this. We should be jumping up and down, ecstatic that such abounding love exists! The fact that ancestors wanted to use liberty as a pillar of our country should be celebrated.
But happiness. That’s where my stomach starts to churn. The American Dream is rooted on the notion that our society was destined for happiness. Culture says we should find another job if we’re unhappy, we should find another spouse if we’re unhappy, we should buy another house if we’re unhappy…the list could go on. But what does God say?
“I have told you these things so that you may have peace in me. In this world, you will have MANY trials and sorrows. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (emphasis added)
God never promised that life would be easy, and warns us to expect hardships. YES God has a plan for our lives, and He wants to give us hope and a future. He wants to give us joy.
But God puts more emphasis on holiness than our human definition of happiness. He wants us to fear Him, love Him, obey Him, because that is the path to a lasting JOY. The American Dream is actually rooted in false ideology. It basically tells God that His plan is not good enough, so we are going to forge our own.
This country is magnificent, even with its flaws. And it definitely should be celebrated! But this holiday, keep in mind Who you stand for. Our forefathers were human, and I doubt they had negative intentions for our nation. But haven’t we twisted the pursuit of happiness into an endless cycle of greed and selfishness? Yes, and that’s where the Grace comes in.
Who you stand for is even more important than the words you stand upon.