In early July, many Americans celebrate their independence. But have we ever really considered the context of the event we celebrate?
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by members of congress. One of the most common phrases we know from this document is: “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.”
Here’s the irony: this document was signed by men who owned slaves. Men who clearly did not put into practice the principle they supposedly believed in.
In 2020, nearly 250 years later, slavery still exists in the United States of America. According to the Department of State website, slaves in the USA exist today by means of sex trafficking, forced labor, domestic servitude, and debt bondage.
How have we let such time pass by without fully ensuring the rights for all men, women, and children given to them by God? How have we been so blinded by rhetoric and distracted by consumerism that we have ignored this problem for so long?
In light of this, an authentic seeker of truth may ask a better question: What can I do to make the declaration the USA stands on to actually come true?
Romans 14: 16-19 starts to provide clarity into how our focus can develop and produce real results. The Voice version reads:
“Do not allow people to slander something you find to be good because the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking. When God reigns, the order of the day is redeeming justice, true peace, and joy made possible by the Holy Spirit. You see, those who serve the Anointed in this way will be welcomed into the whole acceptance of God and valued by all men. Join us, and pursue a life that creates peace and builds up our brothers and sisters.”
“When God reigns” – Jesus’ primary message during his life on Earth was the presence of the Kingdom of God, in the here and now. (Matthew 4:17). God reigns now. He always has, and He always will.
The three things that will prevail when God reigns are:
- redeeming justice – standing for what is right, honest, true. calling out injustice and holding those responsible, accountable.
- true peace – the pursuit of peace, nonviolence, and deescalation.
- joy made possible by the Holy Spirit – life animated by the Spirit of God, the breath of the living God. The Holy Spirit is freely given to us when we ask, and believe that we have received it. (John 7:38-39, 1 John 5:14-15)
These three things must become part of our daily lives. Uplifting the oppressed isn’t something we can do once or in only one season of our lives, then be done with. Cultivating a life of peace is a result of breaking old habits and embracing the teachings of Jesus, allowing His lifestyle to grow and shape our own. Asking for the Holy Spirit is something we must do daily, as growing any relationship takes time and persistent communication.
When we serve God in intentionally focusing on these things, God accepts us fully through the acceptance of all men. We become invaluable to society because we stand for what is right.
So brothers and sisters, let us join together in pursuing life that creates peace and builds up our communities, recognising our total dependance on God to fulfill his perfect will IN us.