- History is ugly.
- Our heroes are flawed.
- Life doesn't come without struggle.
Not only do we put it in a nice little package, but we also glamorize, sanitize, and romanticize our history. We tend to focus on American patriotism in around national holidays.
- Independence on July 4
- Veterans in September
- Memorial Day in May
- Flag Day in June
An American Crisis
But 18th century winters seem to be very significant to our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. While it was July when the Declaration of Independence was signed, by December the War for Independence was not going well. English-born Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet to encourage the populace. The pamphlet was called The Crisis; the opening paragraph went like this:
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.
And he recognized that freedom is not free: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value."
Finally, Paine raises the comparison of the Revolution with Heaven: "Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods."
A Christian Crisis
I have no doubt that a quick, capsulized version of the Gospel numbs and disenfranchises the public. This world, our society, has become fair weather fans of God, reducing Him to Sunday morning, too busy to involve Him in their Sunday or Wednesday evenings, spreading Him thin by focusing on themselves during vain and ignorant worship, stressing the importance of the feelings on the surface and not understanding that:
- He deserves to be esteemed in good and bad times. But God is not the Revolution. Whereas fair weather fans only support their teams when they are winning, many people only seek God when they are challenged by tragedy or illness. In Matthew 6, Jesus begins to give the prescription for anxiety and worry: He tells people that worry about things like food and clothing. He says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Seek first: that means seek His kingdom and His righteousness before you are tempted to worry about hardships; seek Him in fair weather if you want Him to help you through the storm.
- Freedom in Christ is not free; quite the opposite, it is costly, not only taking the life of Christ, but requiring our lives, as well. It is a heavy and expensive investment, requiring more from us than a prayer of faith, more than the act of baptism - requiring instead submission to God's will, an investment of our lives, and sharp focus on Heaven. John 3:16f: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
1 Peter 3:18: "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."
Matthew 10:34-37: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."
"Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods." Do you? The price tag on Heaven - you might say, the price tag on your salvation, for they are in the same - is more than any of us can ever pay. Perhaps you skated past the Gospel a long time ago and quickly set it aside. Perhaps someone said it would be easy, that you could simply ask Jesus into your heart and He'll be there forever, but if our dedication is not there, if we do not continuously submit to His will, and obey His word, reaching out to Him always, then we may have misunderstood what He tells His disciples in Matthew 16:24-27, "“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.