Our rights come from God, not government!
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and announced the separation of the thirteen American colonies from Great Britain. With this, a new nation was formed—the United States of America. History verifies Thomas Jefferson as the composer of the original draft. Once completed, Jefferson submitted his draft to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams for their changes. Eventually, it made its final destination to Congress where it was amended for the last time. Today, we see in its detailed wording why Congress was declaring independence from Great Britain.
The most quoted line from the Declaration is "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.” Our forefathers were declaring they not only deserved freedom, but were willing to continue fighting for it.
Freedom is a great definition of independence, as it is the result of the choices we make in our life. The power of choice is one of the greatest freedoms we have in our country, and knowing where to find it is important, as we see in Proverbs 2:6: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Let's review eight freedoms we should all celebrate this July 4th.
- THE FREEDOM TO BELIEVE
Our country continues to serve as a magnet for oppressed individuals who come to the USA for an opportunity to capture their dreams. Many dream for a good job, food, and shelter for their family. But our government should not be relied upon as the only resource to replace our faith in a God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).
- THE FREEDOM TO LIVE OUT OUR FAITH
In some countries the mention of serving God or his son means instant death. Our forefathers recognized the creator through their extension of certain God-given rights in the Declaration of Independence. Our faith is the most important of all, as it gives us the foundation and assurance that God is in control of a world in chaos. When life seems out of control, seek the source of all creation — God. He will provide peace in the midst of all your life's storms.
- THE FREEDOM TO WORSHIP
We are allowed the choice to worship in any way we desire. God created us for fellowship. Our individual gifts are stronger when they are joined with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sadly, statistics show worship attendance is in a decline as more people choose a life of independence which ultimately leads to a life of solitude. Choose today to ask God to direct you to a community in which to be involved. He will direct you to “give and receive“ as needed.
- THE FREEDOM OF PRAYER
Self-reliance is an American lifestyle demanded and respected in numerous circles. Just as this can be seen as a strength, it can also be a tremendous weakness when it leads us to put God on the sidelines of our life, and call upon him only when we need his rescue. In personal times of self-reliance, I sometimes take on an image of seeing myself as "God-like" which results in my placing other gods before him, namely the god of “Me." By choosing to submit our requests to God in prayer we are making the choice to live out the faith to which he calls us.
- THE FREEDOM TO HAVE A SAY IN GOVERNMENT
In the last Presidential election over 30 million professed Christians did not vote. We must recognize in our nation every vote does count, as issues such as mixed marriage, abortion, social services, and taxes continue to create further divisiveness. Our nation was founded on God, yet we continue to chip away at God’s sovereign place of authority through the decisions continually implemented by the Senate, Congress, and Judicial branches. As a body of believers, we must call sin what it is and stand united as we cast our votes through God’s divine wisdom and direction.
- THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Free speech is one of the most sacred rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and truly, all the others flow from it. We are guaranteed the right to speak openly and publicly about our opinions, beliefs, and faith. And like many of the other freedoms, it's easy to take this one for granted. This is also an extremely important freedom when it comes to preaching the Gospel. We are blessed to live in a country in which evangelism is not only tolerated, but protected in our founding documents.
- THE FREEDOM TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT
The freedom to petition the government is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. This freedom includes having the right to collect signatures on a petition, to engage in lobbying activities, and to protest government leaders if they do something with which we disagree.
- THE FREEDOM TO PURSUE HAPPINESS
If you notice in the Declaration, one of the rights it defines is "the pursuit of happiness." Galatians 5:22 says we can have real joy in our life as we walk in the Holy Spirit. We don't have to pursue happiness; rather we can choose to live it out in the Spirit. This allows us to receive what we richly deserve. So what about the disease, divorce, death and disappointment we may receive along life’s journey? Paul summarizes our responsibility well: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
One way the freedom to petition the government has been explained is as follows: "A more simple definition of the right to petition, is 'the right to present requests to the government without punishment or reprisal.'"
"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 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.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. – Thomas Jefferson
The question is, not what rights naturally belong to man, but how they may be most equally and effectually guarded in society. – Roger Sherman