Today we observe the anniversary of our country's independence. I thank God I was born in the United States, the greatest country on the planet. I thank God I get to live in a place where I can practice my faith without fear of imprisonment or death or worse. I love my country, and every day I'm grateful to be a participant in the Great American Experiment.
Being a Christian in America is easy. Most of us will never know the kind of persecution perpetuated around the world. Some Christians must practice their faith inconspicuously, mindful of who might be watching or listening. For now, we still live in a county where we may criticize our government and petition it for redress. Christians in America are free to gather in the open and pray and worship. Christians in America don't have to smuggle in Bibles or read them in secret.
Religious freedom is the cornerstone of America's foundation. Within our Declaration of Independence is the acknowledgement that all men are equal before their Creator. The fundamental belief that we were made by One greater than ourselves shaped a nation that eventually lived up to the promise of securing the unalienable rights of all citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit-not the guarantee-of happiness. America and Christianity, and not just religion in general, are inseparable. Morality, an objective distinction between right and wrong, is of divine origin. Without it, freedom from tyranny is impossible.
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion," John Adams said. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
Twenty years after America's declaration, George Washington said in his Farewell Address:
"[L]et us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
"It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"
As we observe the Fourth of July and express gratitude to the men and women who fought and died to maintain our freedom, let us also remember our freedom in Christ. The bondage of sin and death is broken. We are unshackled from the vain labor of securing our salvation, which was agonizingly finished on the cross.
And as we celebrate our country's independence and express gratitude to God for being Americans, let us also pray for persecuted believers around the world. We have what they don't-the choice to openly and safely worship the living God. We are without excuse.