It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV
America is known as the ‘land of the free.’ The Constitution grants freedom to all despite differences in race, economic status, gender, religion, etc. It assumes by nature all are created equal and should enjoy equally the rights and privileges outlined in the Constitution. In light of recent events, most importantly, the Constitution grants the assumption of innocence until guilt can be proven in a court of law.
Ours is truly a wonderful system of law and justice. There is none like it in the world. So, where did we go wrong? Why is our justice system and those who are charged to carry it out accused of bias, brutality, and injustice?
The Constitution may assume a person’s innocence, but a Biblical understanding of human nature gives us greater understanding. According to the word of God, by nature we are all guilty of lawlessness. Our hearts are selfish, deceitful, and capable of horrendous evil. Given a choice between loving others and loving ourselves, hands-down we choose ourselves.
So it’s no surprise, any system of government established by humankind, will suffer from the ills of humankind. Even when the Constitution was enacted, many of those responsible for creating our ‘free’ nation held people captive in slavery. The consequences of slavery and fear – from the inception of our nation – have weighed heavily in dividing us as a people. And as Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus Christ,
“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” (The House Divided Speech by Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858)
(“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25 NLT)
What is the solution to our selfishness? Where can true freedom and peace be found?
I believe the answer is in the words of Jesus – the teaching of Jesus Christ acknowledges the truth about the sinful propensity of our hearts, yet offers us a way of forgiveness, a way of sacrifice, a way of peace – that’s why it’s called ‘Good News!’
Paul, in the book of Romans, clarifies what the good news really is:
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24 NLT)
The result of accepting Jesus’ payment for our sins, is a reconciled relationship with God which enables us to reconcile with one another. The command Jesus left us with – and the power given by the Holy Spirit to accomplish it – in Jesus’ own words:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (I John 3:34-35 NLT)
We, as a nation, will never be unified on every issue – and we shouldn’t be forced to be. Nevertheless, our Declaration of Independence states the basis upon which the United States of America was founded, to which we all must agree –
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Seek the truth and you will find God. In him you will find a freedom the world can never take away.
… Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)