Sunday, May 24, 2020

Why Liberty Still Matters!

Martin Luther King Jr marching in the streets, arm in arm, standing for liberty.

King Leonidas of Sparta, standing arm in arm with Spartans,and Greeks, standing for liberty

The alliance of nations at Waterloo standing with muskets, against Napoleon, the dictator, for liberty

Socrates standing before the leaders, condemned for speaking the truth, standing up for liberty

Martin Luther, a single lowly priest, standing before the bishops, in defense of Christ alone, for liberty

Spartacus, leading the slave rebellion in ancient Rome, standing before the might of the Roman army, for liberty

Mahatma Gandhi, stoic in protest, unmovable before the vast power of the British empire, standing for liberty.

Nelson Mandela in South Africa, resisting and standing against the evil of apartheid, for liberty

George Washington and his army, sickly, half starved, at the brink of defeat, crossing the Delaware river, last ditch effort, for liberty.

Jesus Christ, standing before the pharisees, declaring the truth boldly, declaring the hypocrisy, breaking the chains of man-made rules, for liberty.

Something within the human heart craves liberty, to be free, to make our own choices. And yet something within us also craves to be mastered, to be controlled, to be taken care of.

“It was for liberty you were created, but not use your liberty as an opportunity to indulge the flesh.”

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery.”

1 Peter 2:16 “Live in freedom, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.”

Think about that… you were made for liberty. For choice, to freely make choices, whether good or bad. Think back to Adam and Eve in the garden. God made them good. Perfect, righteous and full of love.

Yet he issues this command, eat from any tree in the garden, meaning, live here with me, in joy, in relationship, but, don’t eat from just one tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Very interesting. There was no razor wire around this forbidden tree. There were no armed guards. There was liberty to choose all this good, any of hundreds of tree, but an option, given free will, to choose evil.

Free will. Choice. Liberty, and freedom, to choose our own destiny. And yes the freedom to choose evil, and disobedience. They were not forced to choose the right, they were given the option to do either. That’s God given liberty.

Fundamental to your design as humans is to be free. To make your own free choices.

In the world today, the fallen world, like the original garden, the situation is reversed. Now we are surrounded by a forest of sin. It seems like almost every tree leads to evil. We’re constantly tempted by the trees of sin, the tree of pornography, the tree of dope, the tree of selfishness, the tree of lies, the tree of gluttony. Yet we still have the free choice. To choose what tree we will choose. And like in the original garden there was just one tree that led to sin, now there is only one tree that leads to life.

That is the tree of Calvary the tree of the cross of Jesus Christ, where Jesus our savior our God was nailed to the cross, to remove our sins, to give us liberty, and bring us back to paradise.

That’s your personal liberty, the liberty to choose. But what about group liberty, the liberty of a society? Let’s consider two revolutions, the American revolution and the French revolution. They both occurred in a time in history when king and queens ruled over nations. Personal liberty didn’t really exist. Religious liberty didn’t really exist. If the king was catholic, you were catholic, and guys with swords would come take you to jail if you disagreed. If the king was protestant, guys with swords would come take you to jail if you disagreed.

The American revolution took place, a rebellion against the authoritarian reign of great Britain, forcing their American colonies to pay high taxes, without representation. They would send their criminals to the USA, to get rid of them. They passed laws that forced the colonies to let British soldiers stay in the houses of colonial families for free. So they rebelled. They fought the British. And declared the rights of humanity, under God in the declaration of independence. They formed a nation based on laws, and “In God we trust.” That our rights come from God, and government only exists to guarantee those rights that already exist in natural law.

Consider the French revolution, it took place shortly after the American revolution. It was a revolt against the royal monarchy. But it happened in a very different way, it became a secular revolution, a fight against God, to throw God out of society, and to reform society around man being supreme. The government became the God, and in the end it became the revolution of the guillotine, with heads being chopped off left and right, and in the chaos rose Napoleon, a dictator who would attempt to conquer the world.

George Washington, the man who could’ve been the dictator of the 13 colonies, when the war had been won, ceded his power back to the people, as his military commanders encouraged him to take power for himself, he gave it back to the people, and so a new nation of liberty was born.

Today it seems to me that we don’t really appreciate liberty as we should. We’ve become spoiled I think, in the west, thinking freedom is the normal for civilization. It is not. It’s the exception in history. We’re increasingly obsessed with another competing virtue called equality. We want everything to be exactly equal, in society, in government, even in the economy, and personal finances. But we must remember, without liberty, there is no equality. Only tyranny. Equality alone can quickly become here is your portion, no more, no less. And soon you are a prisoner to what society says you deserve.

In our society, liberty sometimes seems like it’s slipping away. We give many people and groups authority over us. Authority in our society largely goes to the people we give it to. Obviously authority is ceded to our government. But also to certain people and groups we regard highly.

In the past, we as a society ceded authority over our lives, influence over us to people like priests, and ministers, and religious leaders. We saw this group as a source of wisdom, authority, and guidance.

Today more so we cede authority to a new priestly class, Those we call experts, Phds, scientists, and scientific studies, and news media outlets. But it seems that we’ve learned in recent months that this priestly class is not infallible, they can make mistakes too, and often do. And that big word “science” doesn’t actually always mean “the truth” but is increasingly open to interpretation. And the biases of those who use the word to push an agenda.

Which ultimately leaves us with a choice: How will we live? In freedom, in self determination? In courageousness, and faith in God? Or will we live in fear? In total submission to experts and scientific studies? Will we live in tyranny?

We’re designed though, for liberty, not for tyranny. Which is why great men and women like Gandhi, Martin Luther, and Washington, all stood up against tyranny throughout history.

We’re designed for liberty brothers and sisters. But here is the important caveat. “But don’t use your liberty as an excuse to indulge your flesh.”

The price of our Christian personal liberty is what? Eternal vigilance. Which means keeping a close watch on ourselves. We hold ourselves accountable. That is the basic truth of liberty in Christ, we are free as long as we keep a close watch on ourselves, and live pure lives.

The ironic thing is, if we hold ourselves accountable to God’s commands in the Bible, then no tyrannical government is necessary. It’s like the little boy who steals a toy from his sister, and he feels so guilty about it, that he returns the toy, apologizes to his sister, and vows in his heart to never steal again. He is a law unto himself. He holds himself accountable, and no punishment from mom or dad could hurt more than what his conscience has already held him to: A holy, pure standard.

Yet, if we use our liberty for sin, selfishness, to take from others, well, even the most tight gripped government can’t force to live rightly, or stop us from causing trouble.

Think about a nasty little boy, who steals a toy from his sister, even if he is caught by his parents, put in time out, and forced to apologize to his sister, what can be done, if the boy says in his heart, next time I’ll have to be more careful not to get caught.

You can always game the system somehow to get past a law, or a rule, to get what you want.

The price of our liberty, is to hold ourselves to a very high standard. I remember growing up being in my early teens, and we would leave our door unlocked. We would bike around town by ourselves, and we were in no danger. Why? The larger society had a certain code, not because of any law, but because of internal self governance. I will act this way, because that is the ethic of our society. Today those shared values no longer exist.

So why talk about all this today? Well, tomorrow is memorial day. Memorial day, brings to mind the word memory. Do we remember the past? Do we remember the sacrifices of those who served the cause of liberty in the past?

A great writer once wrote, “Once every generation the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood patriots and tyrants.”

Do you remember those who fought and died in the American revolution for your freedom? Do you remember those who bled and died in the civil war to end slavery in the USA? Do you remember those who died to protect the entire world from Hitler and the Nazis? Do you remember those who bled and died in korea and Vietnam to stop the spread of communism around the world? Don’t forget them. Don’t forget liberty, and freedom. We’re used to them. We have them. Don’t lose them. Don’t take them for granted. Fight for them.

Here are the two points that I’m trying to make here:

One, you are made to live in personal liberty, to make your own choices. So hold yourself accountable to a higher standard. Because God asks us to live holy, yet he also gives us the right to refuse.

Two, stand up for liberty in your society. Too many today are eager to throw it away, and hand it over to others. Stand up for liberty. Like MLK Jr, like George Washington. Like Gandhi. Like Martin Luther.

Many think it’s too late for the United States. There’s too much sin, too much tyranny growing. Too many evils multiplying, too many sex trafficking rings, too many millions of aborted babies, too many lies, too many people who just don’t care and stare at the television all day.

And I say this: That is up to you. Will you stand up? Will you speak out? Will you pray? Will you do something?

This is it guys. We’re the small remnant of the church, weak as we are, our God is not. Don’t be discouraged, don’t live in defeat. Stand up! Be brave. Do something special. That’s my challenge to you today.