2014 4th of july2

What can we learn from Lady Liberty?

Lady Liberty stands tall on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor.  She holds her beacon of light high above her head, and is attired in a flowing robe.  She is “crowned” with a seven point headpiece.

This statue is not to be considered a Christian symbol. And it was never intended to honor Almighty God. But Lady Liberty does stand as an emblem of freedom.  She represents freedom from persecution in government, freedom from social and economic oppression and even freedom of religious beliefs and practices.  Lady Liberty is an emblem of the personal liberty upon which our country was built.

Yet, when we consider those liberties in our world today, even though they are constitutionalized to be upheld, they are being eroded in ways that we have never seen before.  This is a foreshadowing of things that we cannot even begin to imagine.  Everyone agrees that there are huge problems in our country, and things need to change.  The  question we should be asking is, what can Christians do about it?

A Different Torch

As Christians our beacon of light is much different than Lady Liberty’s torch.  It is not a torch that we hold high, but rather it’s the light of a Person, which emanates from our being.  Our flowing robe is not seen by others, but it is something that we are assured we possess.  Our robe is a robe of righteousness, gifted to us by the one who earned it for us.  One day we will stand before God clothed in this robe and worthy to enter His kingdom.

Lady Liberty’s seven pointed headpiece adorns her head, one day we will receive our crowns.  Our crown will reflect His radiance and the good works that He has worked through us.

I know there are some who see Lady Liberty as a pagan symbol of worldly power.  They see her as representing governmental influence and personal strength and glory, so it is not my intent to compare, but rather to contrast, this “lady” with our Lord.

A Different Liberty

Unlike those who depend on earthly kingdoms, our allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God reigns on this earth in the hearts of all who belong to the King.  Our power and our strength comes from the Holy Spirit who indwells us, and our lives are to be lived for His glory.

So how does this relate to God and country?  Over the last 238 years, since America became a nation, we have been exhorted to pray for God and country.  This same exhortation came up in a conference call recently with a ministry friend who is very committed to effecting a change in the direction of our nation.  His passion is to turn the hearts of Christians to God and to encourage Christians to actively live what they believe and to vote according to God’s will and ways revealed in His Word.

When I heard this exhortation that we need to encourage Christians everywhere to pray for God and country, it caused me to think, “what is country?”  A country does not have a soul, nor does it have a mind…or a vote.

We often talk about the pulse of the nation, or the heart of America, and yet all of these are human attributes.  “What is a country?” I thought again.  Then it came to me.  A country only exists because of a unified people. A country is my neighbors….on a grand scale.  We would all agree that a country is the people, but it’s only when we start thinking of people as our neighbors that we begin to desire the unity upon which the United States was founded.

As I pondered further about God and country, also God and neighbor, I thought about how Lady Liberty holds one tablet in her hand and upon it is written law (July IV, MDCCLXXVI — the  date, in Roman numerals, of the signing of the Declaration of Independence)— man’s law.

Contrast that with what what Jesus commanded.  He gave us God’s law to live by and told that there are two laws written on the tablets of our hearts:

Matthew 22:37-40  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Let us always remember that we are to first love God, and establish our hearts with His grace (Hebrews 13:9).  When we do that, when we live standing strong in our vertical relationship with Him, then His love will flow through us in the horizontal direction to our neighbor, to our countrymen.

The United States and the United Church

Our country was founded on biblical principles and by godly men.  The farther we stray from those principles, the more divided we become.  Unity among God’s people is of utmost importance.  It certainly was to Jesus.  He prayed for our unity with each other and with God.

John 17:11  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

John 17:21-22  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

Jesus said that our unity will reveal Him to the world:  “…that the world may believe that thou has sent me…” (John 17:21).  We are to be His ambassadors to reveal Him and to represent His ways.  By sharing the gospel with our neighbors, and by uniting as the body of Christ and thinking and voting biblically, we can help bring change in our country.  When the hearts of the people turn to the Lord, the people of our country will be directed by the Lord’s will and ways.

4th of July

This fourth of July, consider what your contribution can be to making a change in this great United States of America.  Read the Bible and pray so the light of Christ will shine through you.

Just as Lady Liberty represents the freedom of our country, stand tall representing the freedom we have in Christ.  Let His light shine through you to your neighbors, and proclaim His law, the Royal Law of love (James 2:8).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

Happy 4th of July from Reasons for Hope* Jesus.

Take all that you can of this book upon reason, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man. — Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States [Response when a skeptic expressed surprise seeing Lincoln reading a Bible]

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.  — Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the read- ing of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.  — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States,  January 25, 1941  [Letter from the White House to the Armed Forces on the first page of my father’s military-issued New Testament and Psalms pocket Bible.]

Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.  — Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

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