In America, on July 4th we celebrate THE Day of July 4th, 1776 when our courageous Founding Fathers, put their lives and legacies on the line to publicly declare, in writing, that 13 American colonies now regarded themselves as 13 States, totally independent from the British Empire - and were uniting together to form a new nation - the United States of America.
This Was a Great Experiment with NO Guarantee of Success
Every signer of this declaration knew full well that his name on that paper meant certain death if the revolution against British rule was lost. Unity, resolve, wisdom, a gnawing desire for freedom, a representative government that was of, for, and by the people, and a very strong sense that God was with them (for a greater purpose beyond what they even knew) were some of the reasons these brave men took a stand for freedom in 1776. But it's important to note that what our founders meant by freedom was far from our often twisted, selfish, modern view.
The Legacy of True Freedom
Freedom to them was the right to self-govern soberly, responsibly and in the context of what is good for all, not just ME. It was a WE thing, not a ME thing. Freedom for them was about a legacy of good for generations to come... NOT just for today.
The Vise Grip of Tyranny
They were willing to die (and some did). Their valor, even unto death, was not a vain or thoughtless death for duty alone. The signers were some of the greatest thinkers of their day. They were classically educated and knew history well. These men knew and EXPERIENCED the progression of tyranny and the vise grip that kingdoms, empires, and nations tightened on subjects and citizens to maintain power when they feel threatened.
Tyranny was NOT the legacy they were willing to leave to their children and their children’s children. If it were not for these men, and the fact that they were willing to literally risk EVERYTHING - their lives, limbs, property, reputations and even the lives of their wives and children - for future generations, and for ME and YOU - we would NOT be here today. My Polish and Italian immigrant great-grandfathers would never have come to America, and I would not be writing my thoughts today from the beautiful, free Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, in the United States of America.
Here’s the BIG IDEA... True freedom ALWAYS costs someone something. AND the greater the enemy, tyrant, injustice or sin - the greater the potential cost. FEAR of loss can paralyze like a broken back and cripple us from being able to pay any cost.
In the Greatest Book Ever Written, a Very Wise Man Once Said... "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12, 13 ESV) Okay, let’s get personal...
Would You Lay Down Your Life? This is serious stuff. This passage talks about a totally selfless love. Loving someone else more than YOUR own life. Some of us can’t even fathom such a love. You might even be saying, “Die for someone else...Yeah, right!?” And the thought that YOU would give your last breath on this earth as the “purchase price” so that someone else might continue to live, seems like the stupidest proposition on earth. So let me ask... is there anything you believe or love so much, that you feel that it would be a good trade for you to give your life for it, or for them? Think about this for a moment! This is intense. Actually, about as intense as it gets.
Would You "Take a Grenade" or Run Away and Save Your Butt? I'm an old Marine and have probably thought about this a thousand times. Would I lay on a grenade or run and hide? Honestly, I don’t know. As selfishness bombards my life AND strikes me with its incessant waves, I would hope that I would lay on the grenade. But truthfully, my best solutions is still this...
I Want to Throw the Grenade - Not Fall on It... This is going to sound lame, but I would hope that I would be in shape and alert always, so that I could grab the grenade and throw it off in some safe direction before it explodes. I don’t want anyone to lose... especially me. Sound familiar?
But Can there Be GREAT Gain in Loss? I love and hate the closing scenes in the movie, “Act of Valor.” Here Rorke (who is supposed to go home to his family RIGHT after the mission he is on as a Navy Seal), dives on a terrorist’s grenade in an intense battle, to save the lives of his friends. Rorke gave up his life and future on this earth as the price for the lives of his men. Rorke had no option to throw the grenade in a safe direction - which is my first choice. There wasn’t any time and there was nowhere to throw the grenade. But his valor purchased the freedom of his men. He died that they might live.
So What Does a Peasant Boy Have to Do with the 4th of July and Freedom? This leads me to another country and time. The place: The Middle East. Enter the illegitimate (in the eyes of those in that culture) son of a marginalized, peasant tradesman, under the tyrannical rule of a dominant world power, in a backwater village. In the end, this boy grew to become a man who lived the greatest life, and died the greatest, most valiant death ever recorded in the annals of history. This man lived a perfect, sinless life and willingly gave his life for us all. He suffering a horrid and brutal death to pay a debt that NO other man could pay, short of death itself. So he stepped in and paid the price with his own sinless blood to purchase the right of every man, woman and child to live free from the tyrannical grip and progressively destructive effects of the sin curse that is on every human from birth, so that we could be part of His kingdom forever.
And the Name of this Unsurpassed and Valiant Hero is... Yep, you guessed it. His name is Jesus. Jesus did not just free or establish a new nation on the earth, but He "took the grenade" for us ALL... and paid the ultimate freedom-price for my sin and yours too. He died, so you and I wouldn’t have to.
Welcome to THE Perfect Country For those who repent (turn away from their sin) and turn to God in the name of Jesus, there is a TRUE, lasting and eternal freedom from sin and its deadly effects. The Bible says, that because of Jesus, His followers pass from death to life and can enjoy peace and joy now, regardless of human governments and circumstances and enjoy His perfect Kingdom in the future. (see Ephesians 2: 1-5 below).
Will THIS Be Our Last 4th of July Celebration? As nations will rise and fall... As men sin and have corrupt, selfish and pride-filled hearts... As the geopolitical landscape of the world we live in seems to change by the day.... it is likely, that at the least, the United States of America will look VERY different in the not so distant future. Will it rise or fall in our lifetime? Will it survive another year? Or will this be the LAST 4th of July celebration? I cringe at the thought... NO, I weep at the thought. We simply do NOT know what the future holds for you or I... even in the next minute, hour or day. So we certainly don’t have a clue what will happen to any nation on this spinning rock we call the Earth.
But I Do Know THIS... To those who are authentic, true followers of Jesus... They are part of an extraordinary, supernatural, absolutely just, perfect and right kingdom that will never end. And God’s kingdom will be seen, lived in and enjoyed by every one those who are saved by - and through - the redeeming work of Jesus, who “took the grenade” by dying for you and I on the cross that He did NOT deserve. His followers WILL see and enjoy His kingdom in FULLNESS, when their last day on this earth, becomes their first day in God's Kingdom... ALL because of Jesus' world-saving, selfless mission of valor to GIVE HIS LIFE (in our place to pay for our sins) for the freedom of all who would call upon His name.
You Can TOTALLY Alter the Course of Your Life, Right Now! Even right now, by simply talking to Jesus, you CAN pass from spiritual death to life. From a corrupt, dying, earthly kingdom to an eternal, and perfect kingdom, by trusting in and following Him. Just talk to Him, right now. He will hear you because, although He died, He rose from the grave and lives in heaven today. All you need to do is be humble before Him and confess your sins. Tell Him you are sorry and that you want Him to change you so that you can live for Him. Ask for His help to turn away from sin and to trust fully in Him.
Next Steps: Now, go and tell someone about your commitment. You probably already know a Christian or two. If you don’t have one, I recommend you get a Bible. The New International Version is a good translation to start with, or if you have difficulty reading and understanding the things that your read, pick up a copy of the God's Word Translation of the Bible. It's accurate, yet easy to understand. The Book of John in the New Testament is a good place to start, but pray to the Lord and he will guide you and teach you through the Holy Spirit who fills, instructs and transforms every true believer in Jesus. If you can't afford a Bible I will get you one. Just let me know in the comments section below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also STRONGLY recommend that you find a church close to your home that teaches the Bible. Here's a link to a Network of Bible Believing Churches that may have a fellowship of believers in your area. And, finally, commit to reading and / or listening to the Bible every day. I listen to Brian at The Daily Audio Bible Podcast - every day - and have been doing this for over 7 years. It’s free. And God has used it to change my life and make me a better, husband, father and friend to those around me. Here's a link.
I Hope to See You on the Other Side... Now, whether I give my life, or it is one day taken from me, "I Hope to See You on the OTHER Side" and look forward to spending forever with you in HIS eternal Kingdom! I hope we like each other, because "forever is a LONG time!" Haa, haa... Have a Blessed and Safe Day! -David “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV)