On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to pass a declaration of independence from Britain. Each signatory was facing death by hanging if the bold experiment failed. The declared that all men were created equal and that they were born with God-given rights. Among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“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” (The Declaration of Independence, 1776).
Today the words freedom and liberty are often used as synonyms, but that is technically incorrect. According to , “Liberty is the state of being free from oppressive restrictions or control imposed by authority on one’s life, behavior, or political views, while freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.”
Capitalism thrives on liberty and freedom that is constrained by a legal system which protects the rights of others. Many of the ills of the current economy are the result of a failure of government policies. Many of the government’s failures are related to the policy-created loss of individual freedoms and liberties. Increased regulatory policies discourage the actions of businesses and individuals to act in their own and the nation’s self-interest.
High energy prices are primarily the result of domestic policies that discourage, restrict and/or prohibit domestic energy production. In less than two years the U.S. has moved from being energy independent and a net energy exporter to scarce supplies causing record high prices. High energy prices impact nearly all other prices. The strategic petroleum reserve, designed for emergency use, has been tapped at an unprecedented rate.
Inflation is the bane of consumers and businesses alike. It can be described as too many dollars chasing too few goods. In 2021, the U.S. government approved a $1.9 trillion stimulus package and a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as the economy was recovering with easing pandemic restrictions. The Federal Reserve monetized the additional debt by purchasing government bonds, which increased the money supply and added to inflation.
Even with the recent loss of individual liberty and freedom, Christians should not become discouraged. The United States was founded on biblical traditions. The Jamestown settlers dedicated the land to the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1607 by covenant. On April 30, 1789, George Washington dedicated the United States to God both in his inaugural address and in prayer. Incidentally, his prayer was made at Christ’s Chapel, which is at the corner of ground zero today.
God is not done with the United States yet. The wisdom of the founders designed a democratic republic with multiple checks and balances. The people are slowly beginning to awaken from slumber. They have had a taste of socialistic ideas and policies, and most do not like it. As people become more informed, dissatisfaction increases. The people ultimately control our government. Better political and spiritual times are coming.
Kingdom citizens realize that true life, liberty and happiness are found only in Christ, our King. Our Father loved us enough to provide His only begotten Son so that we might have eternal life if we believe (John 3:16). Jesus declared that He came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). A significant, fulfilling, fruit-filled life is only found in Jesus.
We also know Jesus is the author of our liberty. His Spirit embodies liberty. We walk in liberty because we seek His precepts. We are blessed in all that we do because we abide by the perfect law of liberty.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17, NASB 1995).
“And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts” (Ps. 119:45).
“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (Jas. 1:25, NASB1995).
Kingdom citizens also know that true and long-lasting happiness only comes from the joy of the Lord. As we obey the teachings of Jesus, we are filled with the joy of Jesus. We also get joy from answered prayer. The kingdom is defined as righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11, NASB).
“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24, NASB).
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17, NASB).
Let us take the time to remember the sacrifices that so many have made to give us the opportunity to celebrate our freedoms. As the Declaration of Independence declared, everyone was created equal, and God gave all the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Let us be thankful to our predecessors and to God while recognizing that true life, liberty and happiness are only to be found in Jesus.
James R. Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.