On Monday our nation will celebrate its 246th birthday. What a tremendous accomplishment: two hundred forty-six years of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
There are many reasons to celebrate our nation’s birthday. We have truly been blessed to live in this great country. Yes, I know it has its problems, but it is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Its greatness surely stems from its roots. Pilgrims came to these shores to find a land where they might worship God in freedom and in peace. While not all our nation’s fathers may have practiced Christianity as we do, yet dependence upon God is evident in so many of our nation’s documents, including the Declaration of Independence.
Consider this statement by one of our fiery founding fathers, Patrick Henry: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!” John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, worded it this way: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” I have read that many of our nation’s most prestigious universities were begun as institutions for Christian higher education.
It is all the more distressing, therefore, to see the spiritual decline of a nation that had such a godly beginning. We have drifted far from our roots. While words by themselves cannot be responsible for such a shift, there is one phrase that has symbolized and galvanized this decline: “the separation of church and state”. This phrase has been used as a hammer to force anything remotely related to God out of public life. It was first used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 in his reply to the congregation of the Danbury Baptist church who were concerned about the potential intrusion of government into their worship. “The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government” (emphasis added).
As can easily be seen, this statement was given to guarantee that government would not be able to have jurisdiction over religious and spiritual affairs. Tragically, the phrase has been taken grossly out of context and, instead of being used as a protection, has been used as a weapon against the church. Modern day revisionists have applied it over and over, to the point where many today literally believe it is part of our Constitution and By-Laws.
How do we as Christians respond to such issues as spiritual decline and historical revisionism?
1) In political action. We have a responsibility to vote and a privilege to support those who stand for what we believe. 2) In prayer. Throughout Scripture we are instructed to pray for those who govern us. 3) In love. When the apostles were confronted with rejection and persecution, they responded firmly but compassionately. They knew they were to represent Jesus Christ in everything they said and did. We are to do the same today. Let us be known for who we are for (Jesus and all people) rather than what we are against (issues and people with whom we disagree).
Get ready for the “Celebration of Freedom” this Sunday at 10:35am! What a joy it is to honor our nation’s flag and all it represents. But, while we have much to be thankful for as Americans, our first allegiance is to Jesus Christ and we rejoice in the awesome freedom He has purchased for us. “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36)! Please join us at 10:35am in the building or online for the Live broadcast on either Facebook (Honolulu AG) or our YouTube channel (Honolulu Assembly of God). We Livestream every Sunday to both locations.
Our Freedom BBQ Lunch will take place right after the worship service. Ono-licious teri-burgers, hot dogs, and buns will be provided. Bring your favorite picnic foods: salads (mac, potato, fruit), baked beans, chips, dessert, etc. And invite someone to enjoy it with you. Note: Canopies will be set up in the parking lot for the picnic.
Coming Up: This Saturday, July 2, is our next Drive-Thru Prayer outreach in the parking lot (1-3pm). See you then!
Aloha ke Akua!