Liberty. Justice. For All.

You may have said this once or twice in your life, if you’re an American, that is.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Yes. That is the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America. I recently discovered, that this is a final edit of an original version. The final approved version has a few different changes. The first edition read as follows:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

A guy named Francis Bellamy wrote this first version. He’s old. Actually dead now. Anyway…

He wrote the first version in 1892.

For whatever reason, I felt like the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson and his cohorts were working on the Declaration of Independence. But that’s just me, I guess. I had some learning to do.

The Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, has this familiar statement:

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.

While we’re at it, the founding fathers of the United States decided to draft this as the Preamble of the US Constitution a few years later, adopted in 1789 and enacted in 1791:

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

So, there you have it…three strong statements that have relatively stood the test of time to help shape a people, a culture, a nation. The United States of America. We hinge on these sentences like a door to a safe. As a nation, we are intimately and sturdily connected to these statements.

Now, may I draw out a word from each of these three statements?

Not Justice

I was recently speaking with a brother from Alabama. We were talking about the culture we are in, in America, and the influences that reside in our psyche. We discussed how America was founded and established with a spirit of liberty.

That really helped me sort out the struggles I personally have at different times in my life. You see, I am an American. I’m not saying that Americans are the only ones who deal with this spirit, but it is definitely engrained in our culture…since the beginning of our existence as a nation.

Our Colonies were being highly taxed and governed by another country or entity or leader…whatever you want to call it.

This other entity was oppressing the Colonies. They were controlling them with their own ideals and agendas. They were using them and draining them of the Colonies’ resources and energy and life.

Something had to change.

The founding fathers of the United States of America decided it was in the best interest of the people in the Colonies to provide a Declaration of Independence and a US Constitution. A bit later in the history of the country, a man wanted to encourage nationalism. He wrote the US Pledge of Allegiance to encourage young folks to buy into the ideals of their country and to benefit the future of his great nation.

Declaration of Independence

Have you been there? Have you ever reached a point where you are tired of the oppression? Did it drive you to make a personal declaration of independence FROM some place or some thing or some one or some idea?

This is an important aspect to our functioning as normal human beings. It is vital for us to grasp for our independence, to declare it. FROM that other entity.

That’s not the end though, is it? Other things come your way. Stuff you didn’t think of. It rocks your world because all of a sudden, you are not dependent, or co-dependent to another entity.

You’ve got to sort it out yourself…

What’s next?

Constitution

This is a way of living. A way of life. The definition of constitution is “a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.”

We set this for ourselves, right? We create fundamental principles and we establish precedents as we go throughout life. We commit to them and acknowledge that these ideas are how we individually desire to be governed, or how we desire to live.

We connect with other folks that share similar principles and precedents. We begin to form unions based off of these ideals.

Every now and then we will make an amendment or ratify an amendment, depending on how we are affected on an ongoing basis. Some of our constitutions are long. Some are short. I guess it just depends on what life brings our way.

Pledge of Allegiance

As we experience success with our Constitution, we wane a bit, of course. Some times we create a mantra of sorts that help us remind ourselves of the things we are committed to. We speak these things over ourselves and recommit to these ideals.

Because we don’t want to drift into an ideal that could control us…

…or another ideal that we don’t understand…

…or…whatever.

FROM

If you’re still reading, thanks for bearing with my US government parallels. But, back to the conversation about brothers and sisters functioning. There is one thing that keeps our declarations, our constitutions, and our pledges working.

Liberty.

When I was processing with the brother from Alabama, it really gave me some insight into our spiritual journey. We have been given the opportunity to have liberty from some entity. For all of us, this entity is ourselves. Period.

But some times, we confuse the idea of liberty to being something about another entity. We escape FROM that entity: that person, that church, that place, those people, that doctrine, that expectation, that responsibility, that boundary, that parameter, that … thing.

When we think this way, we tend to bounce off that thing, and then back to ourselves.

We look for what fits our person, our being, our interests, our environments, our ideas.

We mistake this liberty as having liberty FROM that entity, to ourselves: our own declaration of independence, our own constitution, our own pledge of allegiance.

IN

Here are some words from Paul in Galatians 5:

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Just a couple thoughts.

1. Freedom IN Christ is not the same as liberty FROM and entity.

2. We have to be careful our freedom doesn’t get confused with this spirit of liberty as we discover our expressions of Christ. This spirit of liberty is sneaky if we don’t check it for what it is. It can intertwine with our identity and freedom IN Christ and lead us down some shady roads.

3. There is freedom in Christ when we love our brothers and sisters and serve them where they are at. Not where we are at…

4. When we live from what we want to do, liberty can manifest itself as we move FROM some entity. Works of the flesh are obvious.

5. When we draw from the Source of our freedom IN Christ, we connect with and are led by the Spirit. Our actions when we live from our freedom in Christ look like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things…so there is no need for liberty FROM. Only freedom. Freedom IN Christ.

So if you are moving from a co-dependent relationship, or from being oppressed or dependent upon some entity, remember the 1700’s. If you want to make a declaration of independence, a constitution, and a pledge, draft it. Rock it out. 

It is important to be independent. Independently free in Christ.

Is that the last step? Nope. What does living from an independent freedom in Christ lead you to? That’s the next post…

But until then, what state are you in? In the empire? Colony? Highly taxed and regulated? What state are you in?

3 comments

  1. Trevor Honeycutt · October 9, 2013

    Excellent post Mark! I totally agree with you about our freedom in Christ not being unto selfishness and indulging the flesh, but instead it’s that we’ve been set free from slavery to sin & self, and we are now enabled to live by the Spirit.

    This idea of “liberty” many times manifests in taking “license”, instead of the liberty for which He really set us free.

  2. gunnarblog · October 25, 2013

    Dude-man, you brought some serious mojo here. Really enjoyed reading this, but I think you truly brought up a great point concerning liberty. Really well hashed-out.

  3. Pingback: Top 5 from 2013 | marklchampion

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