It could be argued that the best American holiday is Independence Day, July 4th. Whatever faults or failures we may believe or perceive to exist, it is hard to argue that America is still the greatest free nation on earth. And yet, many Americans have not found the glorious freedom that is promised in the Bible and is freely proclaimed in over 400,000 churches across the country.
The United States Constitution guarantees us several freedoms that protect us as individuals and as a nation. We cannot be forced to incriminate ourselves, we are reasonably secure in our own homes, we can keep a gun to protect ourselves and our families, and we can worship as we choose.
Expression and practice of our religious freedom allows us to stand in airports wrapped in sheets and chanting, wear turbans, go door to door trying to sell religious books or articles, preach on street corners or to build special buildings such as temples, mosques, stake centers, worship centers, or churches. Some choose to worship nature, mother Earth, antique cars, money or any number of other articles of creation. This is America. We are free to worship what we choose, who we choose, as we choose, within the limits of the laws of the land.
Because we worship God as we choose, and because we value the freedom to worship as we choose, we also must allow others to worship as they choose, because this is America. I believe Christianity is the true religion and I do my best to live as if I hold those beliefs dear to my heart. Because this is America and I enjoy my freedom to worship Christ openly, I accept the right of others to worship as they choose. I don’t have to agree with their teaching to be able to appreciate them and love them as we work together to make our community and our country great.
In a nation that seems to be increasingly more divided, is it possible we can see each other the way God sees each of us and all of us? He sees us as His created children. He loves us in spite of our faults, our sin and our unique personalities and behaviors. Love doesn’t force the sinner to quit sinning, but encourages, forgives and always holds out hope for the best in each individual. He sees us as 7 billion people who are all unique individuals, created to love each other and work together to meet each others’ needs, and to be His hand of blessing to each other.
I heard someone say that when God called us to be “fishers of men,” His challenge was for us to catch them and to let Him clean them. God never called us to change people. We don’t have that privilege, nor do we have that ability. Only God can change the heart of any human being. However we worship God, wherever we place Him in our priorities (He should be top of the list), He calls us to live in harmony with each other, to make this world a better place for all of us to live.
As we celebrate our freedom this month, can we thank God that He gave men and women the wisdom, guidance and foresight to create a nation where freedom is our highest goal.
This truly is America the beautiful. May God bless America and continue to help us treasure the freedom we enjoy in this great nation.