Written by R.A. Goodnight
DO YOU ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM OR DO YOU VALUE IT?
I spent most of 2007 living abroad in the Philippines. Prior to leaving, I had to take a class that taught me important cultural and lifestyle guidelines: what I could and could not say, what I could and could not do, as well as where I should and should not go. Even before leaving the United States, this was a new experience, as living here, most of us never have to give much consideration as to what we can or cannot say and do. At least in 2007 we didn’t.
Once I was in the Philippines, I would attend weekly meetings with a security detail, as they briefed me on current threats I had to keep on my radar. Each morning, when I returned to my hotel, I would be greeted by soldiers with automatic weapons. A K9 would sniff me down and I would be searched. My backpack would be emptied, as they checked for explosives or other weapons. Sometimes I would be questioned; I even experienced the beginnings of a violent coup d’etat. Could you imagine living in such an environment every day of your life? You might not have to use your imagination. It is actually starting to happen here.
On the weekends I joined with missionaries from Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. as we took the Good News into the shanties and the villages on the outlying islands. In predominantly Muslim villages, we had to be cautious on how we shared the message for risk of violence. During these trips I would witness utter poverty, victims of human trafficking, malnutrition and illiteracy. When I returned at night my food, water and per diem would be depleted having given it to the children. My eyes would be tired from reading the Bible to those who couldn’t read it for themselves, even in their native tongue. Can you imagine having your family try to survive in conditions such as these? Some are dealing with a few of these circumstances right here in the U.S.
During these experiences, I remember a thought that kept going through my mind – “You are complacent, and you take for granted too many freedoms you have back home.” I have experienced similar conditions and this same convicting thought in other countries as well. Upon my return home, I always find myself thankful for the freedoms my family can enjoy.
All of us ENJOY our freedom, some of us maybe too much. But, as you read this article, ask yourself – do I really VALUE, and not just enjoy, the freedoms that I have? There is a difference. If you do value them, what are you doing to protect and keep them? Several of them are already being targeted.
It is an obvious statement, but the secular freedoms we have are not experienced in most countries around the world. Despite their rarity, more and more of our countrymen are showing their disregard for the freedoms they were born into as American citizens. With a few exceptions, most have never experienced life without the present degree of freedom we have; many have never had these freedoms come at a personal cost. We must remember, these freedoms were not achieved by chance. To the contrary they came at great cost. The stark reality is we will not retain them if we do not give them the respect they deserve. At this point in American history, “We the People” stand at a crossroads, struggling to make up our minds on which direction we should choose. Do we move to the right or to the left?
To the right, a path lies before us remembering and honoring things for which honorable men and women fought and died. It protects the mainstays to freedom – our ability to believe as we choose, to worship as we choose and to have access to unbiased information. If we choose the path to the right, we will retain our ability to select from among the people, the individuals that will respect our opinions and represent our will as citizens. That path will allow us to have a say in our own lives instead of being subject to someone else’s agenda for us. This path does come with costs though.
Regarding the costs of freedom, President Ronald Regan reminds us,
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same”.
Yes, to remain free we must be brave, willing to take a stand and to be involved in our communities. It asks each of us, as individuals, to be willing to teach future generations the importance of freedom and sanctity in protecting it. It requires sacrifice from each of us to be personally accountable and responsible for our freedoms. Sigmund Freud stated, “Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.”
Perhaps that is why the path to left seems appealing to so many. This path entices the population to a life without personal responsibility–a new nation where everyone can be and do whatever they want. After all, the government will take care of the rest. It advertises with words such as equality and tolerance. It even promises a release from accountability to financial burdens such as education costs, healthcare costs and mortgages.
But when we pull back the curtain and examine what is really being offered, we find frightening compromises. The financial freedoms they promise will come at the cost of three inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To achieve the world’s definition of tolerance and equality you will be asked to turn in your freedoms of religion, speech and press (as well as others). That path asks you to renounce your allegiance to key elements of God’s word. In its place, you will bend your knee to man and fear. There’s not enough time to get into all of the costs of socialism. In many ways though, our country essentially become slaves to sin.
With the two paths having been identified, does the Bible give us any direction to consider on freedom and our responsibility regarding it?
FREEDOM AND THE BIBLE –
Throughout human history, we have seen God liberate His people from worldly governments
such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Rome. In most examples recorded in The Bible, humans (both men and women) played a part with helping God’s servants become free, as well as interceding on behalf of His people before the rulers of the time. We have examples such as:
Moses and Aaron (Exodus 5:1,2)
Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:4,5)
Esther (Esther 3:8; 4:12-17; 7:3,4)
And Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1-7)
Understanding that neither God nor His purpose has changed, we can be confident that He still desires for His people to be free. (Malachi 3:6) Additionally, we should gain courage from seeing Him bless the efforts of those who work for the good of His people in the political spectrum. But most importantly, we should understand that freedom is a gift given to us from God. (James 1:17) Knowing this, it only makes sense that He expects us to value the freedoms we have. However, He will not force us to take it if it is not wanted. He will take it away if we toss it aside. Let’s discuss this more.
We find an important lesson that God teaches those paying attention in the story of Samuel. The Nation of Israel had been liberated from Egypt; they were now in the Promised Land. They had seen God take care of them in many miraculous ways. But, after all He had done for them, notice what they asked Samuel to do. “They said to him, ‘You are old…now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’” (1 Samuel 8:5) Yes, the Nation of Israel came to see little value in the freedom God had given them; they had lost respect for those that had sacrificed for them. They wanted to be like the nations, like everyone else.
How did God respond? He told Samuel, “Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (1 Samuel 8:9 NLT) Samuel did as God directed and warned them of the political decision they were making; telling them that they would come to regret their choice. (1 Samuel 8:10-18) Even though they were warned, they proceeded anyway. (1 Samuel 8:19, 20) History shows that God was right. Think of all the turmoil Israel went through due to many wicked kings and the decisions they made.
What lesson do we learn from this?
God may warn us against taking a certain political path, but He will not stop us if the people’s hearts are set upon it. How wise it would be to listen to the warnings in advance.
Does this not remind us of today? Many are clamoring for something different. We are watching the divide begin to occur, some choosing the right while others choose the left. Some of what they say might seem appealing to us, but we have been warned – by history, by true leaders bold enough to speak up and by God himself via The Bible. We have been told, as good as it may sound, do not go down the path being pushed by the left. But, He will not prevent it…even if we ultimately regret it.
We need to give serious consideration to which path and which leaders we are supporting. We need to pray for those elected, as well as our fellow citizens, that they make the right choice as it affects all of us. (1 Timothy 2:1,2) While time remains, each of us should show we value the freedoms we have. Do not allow them to be stripped away freely by the lunacy of the world. We should be involved in the capacities each of us have been given, making it known that we choose God and His gift of freedom.
Compared to the world in general, it should be crystal clear that each of us as American’s have been given a great gift in freedom. The Bible, through Jesus’ words, gives admonition to people who have been entrusted with such gifts, “For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48 NLT)
Our gift of freedom demands our continued action. Right now, we are being asked to protect the freedoms entrusted to us. By our actions or our inactions, we will prove if we are worthy of what has been given to us. There is a second scriptural principle that applies as well, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much”. (Luke 16:10) By no means am I suggesting freedom is a ‘very little’ thing. What I am stating is this: if we want God to continue to bless us with more, to trust us with more, we must be faithful stewards with what He has already asked us to oversee. For The United States of America, freedom is part of what has been given.
We must pay attention to this important principle, as there is an alternative outcome for those who are not good stewards. In the parable of the talents, Christ issues a warning to those who do not value the gifts that God has given to them. (Matthew 25:14-30) He says, “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside…where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:28-30) If we continue as a country to show disregard for the freedoms that have been given us, they could be taken from us all together.
We are the stewards. As much, we must take a stand against what we are seeing happen. Your current freedoms, and maybe even more importantly, the freedoms of the next generations are dependent upon your actions today.
SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
At the outset, I asked if you could imagine living in such an environment where freedom was limited or non-existent. As each day passes, this country appears to move further in that direction. Will you spectate while this is occurring? Will you not have any involvement? Being “neutral” in the issues of our time gives way to victory for the side you likely oppose.
And what about our children and grandchildren?
Can you imagine them afraid to speak?
To learn the truths that God gives?
Time is still on our side. The ability remains for us to hold back what would transform where we grew up into something unrecognizable. As Nehimiah said to those helping him rebuild Jerusalem, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
If you more than just enjoy, if you truly value what you have, then help ensure an inheritance of freedom for the next generation. Each of us must be responsible. Each of us must get involved. We must hold fast our stand with God and His views on freedom no matter how unpopular, and we must do our part to secure freedom for our future generations.