“It is a fulfillment of human nature to think about the existence of God and what he might demand of us and aspire to live in accordance with our conclusions. Throughout human history people have sought the truth about ultimate–and divine–reality and have shaped their lives accordingly. Religious freedom respects the right of all persons to pursue these ends. It is not a concession of the government to its subjects but a natural right that the government recognizes, protects, and is limited by. We are to render to Caeser what is Caesar’s, but to God what is Gods, because Caesar is not God. Religion is outside the jurisdiction of Caesar, who must acknowledge that men’s consciences are bound by a higher law” (Truth Overruled by Anderson).
July 4th, Independence Day, is different this year for many people of this country. In an era where our freedoms as citizens appear to be diminishing, I took some time to actually read (really listen) word for word the declaration 56 men of this country placed their signature on and sent to the king. As I listened, I was overwhelmed by the complete boldness and courage these men had. The boldness and courage that came from knowing and believing the rights they had as individuals and as a human who believed in a Creator of the universe. These three things stood out:
1) There are natural laws and laws of God that are given to every human being.
2) When those laws begin to be taken away from an individual, it then becomes the duty of that individual or group to separate, pull away from those who are trying to take those natural laws away from them.
3) When the time comes to pull away, courage, boldness, and a true identity in what one believes surfaces and can even cost an individual their life.
Those 56 men knew what the natural laws and laws of God were. Those men knew that they would have to set themselves apart if those laws were threatened. Those men knew that when it came time to separate it might cost them their lives.
Those 56 men were no different than the 3 men who were told to worship a gold statue and thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood their ground even if it meant losing their life.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, ‘Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). Read the full account here: Daniel 3:8-18
Those 56 men were no different than Peter and John who were told to stop talking about the miracles that were being done through them. They were willing to lose their life rather than disobey God.
“But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Read the full account here: Acts 4:13-20
Those 56 men were no different than Paul who knew his identity and purpose and carried out his work despite the inevitable loss of his own life to make sure everyone else knew how to save their own.
“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”
When you read and consider the boldness and courage these men had, do you wonder if you have the same? When the time comes to stand for what you believe, will you be able to stand? It will take understanding the reality there are natural laws and laws of God that are given to every human being. It will take recognizing there is a Creator of this universe who gives us those laws. And it will take a bold willingness to separate from those trying to take those rights away even if it means losing our life.
Will you take 10 minutes today to listen to the words those 56 men signed their name to? Listen and consider the truths that are proclaimed within the document and pray for those same truths to be carried out in your own life so that freedom will continue to ring throughout this land we love. Then take some time to join in signing God of Our Fathers. The lyrics are below.
God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.
Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.
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