- - Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Culture challenge of the week: Don’t take liberty for granted

“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.”

Even though these truths are self-evident, it’s important that we never forget that they are not self-actualizing. Man was made for freedom, but the vast majority are not born into it.

As Ronald Reagan said on Memorial Day 1983: “I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.”

We are blessed beyond belief to be Americans. Many of our children and grandchildren are dispatched around the world fighting to preserve freedom. But the vast majority are not serving in the military, either by personal choice or because they are too young, and they need to understand the significance of the sacrifices made on their behalf.

As Reagan said in 1961: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

If we ever take our freedom for granted, we may lose it.

How to save your family: Give honor where it’s due on Memorial Day

May 26 is Memorial Day. We often think of it in terms of a three-day weekend more than anything else. I want to challenge you to truly celebrate Memorial Day with your family this year.

As we consider how to honor our lost servicemen and women, it is appropriate to look to the story of the greatest sacrifice of all time.

The most decisive victory of all mankind was earned by the sacrifice of one man. Jesus Christ purchased the fullest freedom we can experience this side of heaven. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before He was crucified, Jesus prayed: “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39).

No soldier, Marine, airman or sailor desires death. But all of them have made the ultimate sacrifice: They have laid down their will for a higher one. For many, that sacrifice meant laying down their lives as well.

Christians gather to take Communion to remember Jesus‘ body broken and blood poured out, His life offered up on our behalf. Taking Communion is a powerful act that serves more than remembrance alone. In the same way, Memorial Day holds deeper significance than merely remembering.

Before Communion, we are supposed to search our hearts. What sins have I not brought to the light? Whom do I need to forgive? Whom do I need to seek forgiveness from? Communion is an invitation to survey the conditions of our souls and initiate reconciliation and healing within the church.

What better way to honor those who died to preserve this country than to stop and consider the state of our nation? How have we taken our freedom for granted? Are we still “the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Would those who gave their lives in generations past be proud or dismayed? Where is tyranny or oppression sneaking in and how can we eradicate it? What are the weaknesses and threats, and how can we turn them into strengths?

Even though Christ already purchased freedom for us from the tyranny of our sinful natures, we remember His sacrifice, in part, to be encouraged. We reflect on the truth that the war has been won — that we know good conquers evil — and we are strengthened. It increases our resolve to keep fighting our small daily battles to maintain our freedom. We must choose daily to walk in the freedom Jesus has purchased.

Though our mortal victories could never compare to the victory Christ secured on the cross, the victories won by the men and women who have given their lives for our country should always be remembered and honored. It is important that we remember them and reflect on why they gave their lives. Then we, as a nation, will be strengthened and encouraged.

Memorial Day is the perfect time to teach your children about the high price of freedom, and it offers a golden opportunity for each of us to amp up our resolve to fight the small daily battles against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so that those battles might never turn into a bloody battlefield.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]

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