“We must understand our Constitution if we are to defend what we have achieved under it, and we must know our history if we are to value the ordered liberty the Founders bequeathed to us. We must be free by governing ourselves, preserve our freedom for the next generation, and stand for freedom at home and abroad. We the people created this republic, and we the people must preserve it.”
With this in mind, today I would like to discuss four R’s relating to our duty as citizens of the United States of America:
To begin with, let’s get to the heart of the matter – REPENTANCE. Before we can move forward, we must accept where we’ve been wrong. Only then can we turn from our error and make a true lasting change. It is important to note that we can only do this with God’s strength working in us. I’m reminded of the verse in 1 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.” Dr. James Taylor stated in his book, It’s Biblical, Not Political! How to Line Candidates Up Biblically, “The thing that changes people and brings about peace to an environment is when men repent before a living God”. We must turn our hearts back to the Lord. Biblical change does not start with those in leadership – it starts with us. The establishment of biblical government is created from the inside out and from the bottom up. It starts with us as individuals repenting and aligning ourselves with God’s standards. Kevin Swanson states in his book, Freedom, “Ultimately, the fight for freedom is rooted in a commitment to the righteous standards of God’s laws.” He further states:
“There is little talk of freedom today because there is little concern about tyranny and sin. This has something to do with the fact that there is so little mention of sin in the pulpits. When Christianity fails to define law and liberty by God’s Word, the political agendas are set by secular humanists. Without fail, the policies of the humanists will only produce more tyranny, more immorality, and a curtailment of political freedoms.”
Repentance is our first duty – we can’t move forward until “we the people” take responsibility for and turn from our sin.
Next, it is important to REMEMBER. Too many people in America today have lost a heart of appreciation for what has been given to us. Proverbs 22:28-29 states, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” In order to remember we must educate ourselves. Perhaps you’re familiar with George Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Only by educating ourselves about our past and what we’ve been given can we recognize where our liberties are at stake, take action, and share what we’ve learned with others. It is important that we become well educated about our past so that we don’t have to fight again the fights that were hard gained by dedicated men and women that have gone before us. We become well educated by what we read and who we listen to. This is more than just casual reading and listening though! We have to be prepared to dig deep. Yes, it takes time, but you’ve probably heard the old saying that “something worth doing is worth doing well” and preserving our liberties is definitely worth doing well! Learning is a life-long endeavor, but it’s important to make sure that we ARE learning! It is through remembering what others have sacrificed for us that we are spurred to higher levels of action and duty. Again, Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., writes:
“The Founders placed great hopes in the Constitution, but they knew that no paper constraints could preserve liberty. That duty rested ultimately with the American people. The role of the Constitution was to restrain and to check, and—as George Washington wrote—to ‘raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.’ The words of the Declaration, the lives of the Founders, and the design of the Constitution can inspire, but on their own, they cannot preserve the American republic…Only the American people, steeped in the principles that inspired the Founders and animated the Declaration, can do that…”
We can’t preserve liberty without a knowledge of what there is to preserve. We must remember and in order to remember, we must educate ourselves.
Now we come to my third point – RESPONSIBILITY. A quote from the Daily Walk Bible study reads, “Freedom is a two-sided coin: on one side is a privilege; on the other, responsibility.” What is our responsibility? The great Irish statesman Edmund Burke stated, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Each of us who hold liberty dear must do something. There is no excuse for inaction. If you’re lost for where to begin – begin by holding your members of Congress accountable. The Rev. James A. Garfield (who also became our 20th President) stated:
“The people are responsible for the character of the Congress. If that body is ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerated ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it is intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”
Find something you can do and then do it. Don’t leave it at good intentions! God has given each of us a sphere of influence. Work within your God-given sphere to affect change. Queen Esther started off as an ordinary person, but she was ready to act when she had the opportunity and God used her. Look around you. God has you where you are for “such a time as this”. God has called us to do His work until He comes. This doesn’t allow us time to be complacent. In military terms (and using a line taken from an old WWII movie on the D-Day invasions), we are to “hold until relieved”. Be diligent. Don’t let the enemy gain a foothold!
My final point is REBUILDING. We are in need of a time of rebuilding in our nation. One of the most important aspects of rebuilding is prayer. It was true in Nehemiah’s day and it’s the same in ours – we won’t succeed at rebuilding our nation without God’s help! So much is in disarray. It’s sad to look around and see how far we’ve come from the godly principles we were founded on, but I believe there is still hope for our nation. It can seem like a daunting task. We wonder if we’re ever going to make any headway, but we must not give up!
I love what Robert E. Lee said, “The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”
We need to realize that the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into may take more than one generation to turn around and we have to be willing to work without reaping the full benefits of our efforts. Our posterity is worth it. Our nation is worth it. If you look around and see that the number of those with you is small, never forget that God often works through minorities (Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Daniel, the list goes on!). By His grace, we will succeed in this endeavor!!
In closing, I want to share an excerpt by Samuel Adams from a 1771 essay in the Boston Gazette,
“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.
“We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with care and diligence.
“It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.
“Of the latter, we are in most danger at present: Let us, therefore, be aware of it. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former, for the sake of the latter.
“— Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance.
“Let us remember that ‘if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.’ It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.”
Our forefathers sacrificed their life and fortunes for us and many gave their all – are we willing to do the same? We have been given the precious gift of liberty at great cost to those who have gone before us. Freedom isn’t free. It is our duty that we preserve it. Ronald Reagan gave us a sobering reminder that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Time is short and the time for action is now!!
-Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., “What Is The Role of the People?”. http://www.heritage.org
-Kevin Swanson, Freedom, 2015
-Dr. James Taylor, It’s Biblical, Not Political! How to Line Candidates Up Biblically, 2015
-Samuel Adams, Essay, written under the pseudonym “Candidus,” in The Boston Gazette (14 October 1771), later published in The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (1865) by William Vincent Wells, http://thefederalistpapers.org/founders/samuel-adams/samuel-adams-the-liberties-of-our-country-are-worth-defending