If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. It what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved–even though only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst. If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are of Christ and Christ is of God. I Corinthians 3:12-23 NIV
As America celebrates its independence from British rule in 1776, we must also reflect upon the situation of that time–leading to the declaration and remembering the sacrifices made to ensure independence from those who sought to keep people in bondage, being under the thumb of authoritarian rule of royalty. The entire purpose of establishing The United States of America (then only 13 colonies) was to make sure people were not ruled by any one person or one group of people–who would abuse the rights of all people in order to benefit themselves (no taxation without representation).
That’s the mini-lesson for today and there is so much more we need to remember and understand. For instance, why people left Britain, what happened to the Native Inhabitants of the land, why slaves were imported from Africa and other Caribbean Islands, and why religious freedom was a must for those who came to inhabit the land.
It would appear that we are having a continual discussion about the foundational beliefs of America–one being that it was founded upon Christianity–which is a myth. The founding fathers referred to biblical principles when writing the constitution, but it was not about Christianity–since many people establish religions based on biblical principles but do not call themselves Christians. But let me clear–biblical principles are great to use to determine how one lives and in how we should treat others, but it takes having a relationship with Jesus Christ to call oneself a Christian (follower of Christ). Not understanding the need for a relationship with Christ is what caused so many problems in America and in other places, but today–I’ll just deal with America.
It was “religion” not Christianity that led the early settlers in America to believe that “slavery” was their right. Much of this belief was held because of not understanding what they read in the bible (not know who was talking or why). And yes, I know Paul talked about slaves in the New Testament, but it was a matter of understanding slavery–benefiting from free labor–not the mistreatment of other human beings. And we see the mistreatment of human beings in how the Native Inhabitants were treated, the imported slaves, and those who later migrated to America, but did not look like those who first came. I don’t want to make this a “black and white” issue, but let’s be real, white settlers took over the land from the Natives and restricted their movement because they were not white; they mistreated slaves and even after they were freed, the black people were restricted in movement and ability to thrive, as were those who migrated from Ireland, China, Poland, Italy and just about anywhere else.
And today, a fear-monger has ignited fear in others again–about those who do not look like them or worship like them and has “restricted” others from coming into the land, afraid they’ll no longer be a “superior” race of people. That’s what American Values have become–if a person is white and holds fast to the “religious-right” way of thinking about the bible, they are welcomed into this country; if not–they are kept out.
Being religious is not being a Christian since religions hold fast to man-made rules and doctrines that leave Jesus wondering if He could measure up to the standards, petty, vindictive, bigoted people establish. As stated earlier, being a Christian means to follow Jesus–doing what Jesus did–care for the poor and needy, the vulnerable, the abandoned, the bereft, those looked down upon by those in positions of authority and ignored. If we–as Christians understand that God is love and He could do nothing but love, then we understand why– in the person of human flesh– Jesus dined with sinners without judging them, went into areas where normally Jews wouldn’t wander, and healed all who came to Him. He was not concerned about a person’s position or wealth or lack thereof (though He admonished the religious who tried control people based upon their rules), he was compassionate towards all and commanded all who would follow Him, to “love God and to love one another.”
Where is the love? How do we demonstrate our love for one another? Is it rejecting–out of hand–the value and worth of another human being’s life because they are not “white” or wear a head covering, or pray five times a day, or three times a day or not at all? Is it dictating to others how they should live and then disparaging them when others don’t comply? Is it proclaiming to be “pro-life” as it pertains to a fetus, and yet refuse to assist those who are already here, by pushing an agenda that decimates the poor? Is it disregarding all those who helped to make this land great–regardless of their skin color, religious beliefs, or their gender?
If American Values are regressing to those times when people lacked understanding and thought they had to “make decisions” for others, then our values are worthless and they make the Constitution a waste of paper and sacrifices made to achieve the opportunity to write it.
This is the 21st Century, not the 1930s or 40s or 50s or 60s. We are living in an age of technology that when used appropriately, can catapult us into a future of wonder and amazement to the rest of the world. If used to undermine the very nature of what we claim to hold fast–those rights clearly established in the constitution–then we set ourselves for derision and become a non-entity to the rest of the world.
We need to reassess our American Values and make sure they align with the Constitution and the biblical principles used to establish it. Every human being in this country has the same rights as others regardless of skin color, religious belief, or gender and no one–no group has a right to undermine or destroy that. For when they undermine the Constitution, they demonstrate they do not know God and their authoritarian spirit–defies God since God is the only person we should obey.
We have a choice–we always have a choice as to what we believe and how we treat others. I am a proud American–descendant of slaves and Native Inhabitants–a patriot in the truest sense of the word and I hold sacred the plight of the country over any political agenda to control people. And because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ and know how to love–I am a true Believer and try always to do as Jesus would do. Not everyone wants to hear truth and accept it, but God did not call me to just teach His Word and only speak truth, when people wanted to hear it. In fact, He reminded me that my job is to teach His Work and speak His truth; I’m not accountable for what people do with the truth–they are–reject or accept–it’s on them, not me.
So celebrate today in remembrance of obtaining freedom from the control of others–have a wonderful time–but remember how we got here and know the only way we stay “free” and enjoy the liberties we have is to seek God and rethink what our American Values are and what they mean to all.
I’m Mary Hall-Rayford and I approve this message.