by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Thursday, July 4, is the day in 2013 that we annually celebrate the independence of the United States of America. What does it mean to be free? Not to be coerced, not to be compelled to do something contrary to your will. Freedom is having the ability to decide your own destiny, hopefully within the will of God. When God calls us to believe in Jesus Christ—he wants us to be free from false allegiances, from harmful loyalties—from dangerous courses. Sin is tyranny. Faith and trust in God is freedom. People seek freedom from tyranny because they want to be free from the domination of a despot. Unfortunately, many people surrender their freedom when they become addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, or hatred.
Freedom is believing in Jesus Christ—walking in his will. Freedom is making your own decisions, and not being compelled to do things that are contrary to your will. There is a false freedom that celebrates the will of man above the will of God. This freedom ultimately leads to destruction and disaster. Liberty consists in the freedom to do good—not to do evil. Freedom of speech does not give us the right to make malicious or false statements about others. Freedom of worship means that every person has the right to worship God as they please.
Our nation was built on the principle that the source of law and freedom comes from God. Note the highlighted references to God in The Declaration of Independence:
“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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….
We therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,…And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
The founders of our nation understood the seriousness of human sin when constructing the Constitution of the United States of America. They reckoned with Lord Acton: “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Therefore, the political power was divided between the national government and the states, with the balance of power left to the states. It was further organized by dividing the powers within the national government between Administrative, Legislative, and Judicial. Our founders recognized that we can barely trust ourselves—for many people have a lust for power, and a desire to use it for their personal benefit. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt, who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
God offers us freedom! I Peter 2:16, “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as servants of God.”
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note
Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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