Sunday, September 18, 2016

Making America Good Again: The Source of Freedom and Goodness

The moral landscape that shaped America is deeply rooted in Christianity.  Interestingly enough, this does not mean that to be a good person or enjoy the benefits of freedom you must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  I am a follower of the resurrected Jesus Christ, but won't ever insist that you accept my beliefs.  Jesus never forced anyone to believe in Him.  He invited people to follow Him. 

So whether you do – or don’t - believe God is the Creator of all that is, including freedom and goodness, please accept this invitation to read on.
Americans talk a lot about “rights" and "freedoms."  Our founders trusted that these rights came from our Creator - things like equality, life, liberty, and being able to freely pursue your dreams. The Constitution's Bill of Rights ensures that we are free to believe what we want, say what we please, and use our time and money as we see fit.  These ideals are yet to be fully realized for everyone, but we come closer with each generation.

But what does it truly mean to be a person who is free?  It is more than not being a slave, although that is a part of it. Human beings have free will.  People are created to  think and act as free agents, without any outside restraint.

Freedom works reasonably well if you live alone or with people who think like you do, but that is not the real world.  Why?  Look at human nature.  People are self-centered.  We yearn to be free, but freedom is lost as soon as one person or group hinders the freedom of another. The reality is, if I fully exercise my freedom it will at some point hurt you, oppress you or enslave you - and vice versa. 

For all of us to be free, we must agree to place limits on our freedom; “My freedom to swing my fist ends where your nose begins." 

This is where goodness comes in.

I like to think about it this way - if freedom is living without restraint, then liberty is freedom infused with goodness. 

America is the land of liberty.  When we make good choices with our freedom, we will live at peace with ourselves and with those around us.  Not only that, we will need fewer laws and less government!

In short, the only way to live free is to be good. 

But what does it mean to be good?  For most of American history people would have thought the answer was obvious, but that is no longer the case. 

Over the past 50 years or so, our concept of goodness has been changed.  Many have worked diligently to remove America's Judeo-Christian foundation from our education system, history and culture.  Then opinion-shapers moved us to accept the idea of moral relativity that assumes each of us can determine what good, right and  true for ourselves, but not necessarily for anyone else.  Now we are awakening to a culture where opinion-shapers are defining morality for us with only the faintest of nods, if any at all, to our Christian heritage.

Things are not working out so well, are they? 

In these reflections, I will be challenging you to explore what it means to be good, personally and in relationships within families, communities and between nations. They are based upon the teachings of Jesus, revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, and confirmed by observing human nature.  I hope that you will come to see God and goodness, faith and freedom in a whole new light. 

And I also hope that together we can discover some common ground to make America good in our generation and beyond.  Our liberty depends on it.

Next:  Love One Another

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