One of the most famous quotes connected with American history is the one that is associated with the fiery orator Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death!” It is reported that these were among his words at the Virginia Convention held at St. John’s church in Richmond, Virginia in 1775. It is said that his speech was a turning point in the convention, leading to the Commonwealth sending troops to participate in the Revolutionary War. The rest, as they say, is history. As our country in recent years has moved farther afield from our Constitution and has begun to regulate every aspect of our lives, however, continually robbing us of our hard-won liberties, I have often wondered aloud whether we would have had the courage of our Founding Fathers.
We are saying, in effect, “Give me liberty, or whatever else you want me to have.” These are the words of sniveling serfs. Our founders fought bravely and many of them died in the war for freedom, and yet we in our time have frittered it away by electing politicians who are interested only in feathering their own nests while they sink the country deeper and deeper into a dark whirlpool of indebtedness that we will probably never be able to pay back. National bankruptcy is, in all likelihood, in our future, while we worry about trivialities and busy ourselves with empty Hollywood movies and vacuous TV shows.
What has this to do with our religion? In fact, it has everything to do with it. Our country was born out of a Judeo-Christian environment and we are the heirs of a Christian heritage in America, and yet we have fiddled as the politicians have appointed judges over us who are faithless and godless men and women. They have imposed on us a godless ideology that is pure infidelity. Statesmen of the past have become the time-serving, money-grubbing, party-slave “representatives” of our own day. Many of them are empty suits who have no morals at all. They have enriched themselves with numerous benefits while the country has been run into the ground. They have hobbled the greatest and most dynamic economy in the history of the world with their endless red tape and meaningless rules. Daniel said that God rules in the kingdoms of men and sets over us “the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17). We have reached that low ebb in our history! These people are clearly the “lowliest” that most of us can ever remember! The Lord is apparently punishing us for our national sins.
In the mean time they have been very busy. They have passed so many laws that even they cannot keep up with them. We are told that we have reached a point where virtually everyone is breaking some law at some point during most days of their lives. When it reaches that point, we have lost sight of sanity and have entered some kind of “twilight zone.” And yet the rules, regulations and laws keep piling up to the heavens! Many of these people do not have the mental prowess to clean the buildings where they work, let alone run a country. Still, we can only blame ourselves. We continue like mindless robots to elect these clowns and allow them to have power over us, so long as they keep voting us benefits out of the national treasury. It is sad to see our great nation brought to ruin, but it seems that there is little chance of turning it around in the present circumstances.
As Christians we are to respect those who have the rule over us and submit to them. In the present climate this is admittedly a great challenge for us, but do it we must for the sake of our moral and spiritual health (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). We are the servants of Jesus Christ and not of the federal bureaucracy. In every situation and circumstance of life, however, there is some spiritual lesson that God is trying to teach us to make of us better people and more profitable servants in his kingdom and service. Clearly he is teaching us something in this case also.
The Galatian Christians made the same mistake that most Americans are presently making; they made their way to spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ, and then squandered their liberty by allowing themselves to be enslaved by the Judaizing teachers who ravaged their congregations. Paul appealed to them passionately in the following words: “For freedom did Christ set us free; stand fast therefore and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1). He said of these legalists that they were, “false brethren…secretly brought in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Gal. 2:4). What Paul intimates here is that not everyone was awake to the danger; the damage was being accomplished covertly and without fanfare. The Galatians were losing their freedom while they slept! They were being enslaved while they concentrated their energies on other and less important things.
In every age of man there are those who make it their purpose in life to enslave us and bring us back into spiritual bondage. Jesus died on the cross to give us liberty and break the bonds of our former slavery. Our answer to those who wish to make slaves of us again must ever be, “Give me liberty or give me death.” That is the bold and courageous proclamation of a free man who despises slavery and will have no master but God. No mediocre reply like the one that most Americans are presently proffering will do with God: “Give me liberty, or whatever else you want for me to have.” The Lord wants us to have liberty, and liberty we shall have if only we are willing to sacrifice for it and pay the price to keep it. Make no mistake about it, freedom never comes free. There is a price tag on it and the cost is high. But it is worth every penny that is paid.