What makes a nation great?
Is it size? The largest nation in our world is Chine, would we consider it to be a great nation?
Just because they have been successful in infiltrating our government and military secrets does not make them a great nation.
Is it military power? Look at the awesome nation of Rome.
Two nations that were really small, have stood the test of time as being great. Ancient Greece gave the world philosophy and the appreciation of beauty. Ancient Palestine gave the world a knowledge of God and man's place in the universe. That's what made them great..
So, what makes a nation great?
I believe nations are called by God, just as you and I are called by God. A nation becomes great as it trusts in God, and utilizes the special abilities and talents that God has given them for the benefit and enrichment of the world.
What makes America great? True, we have size, and wealth, technology, and industry. We have the best standard of living of any nation or country in the world. Is that what makes this country great?
What makes this country great are the principles, convictions, and ideals that our history shows we have been willing to pay the price for.
What are these principles, convictions, and ideals?
First, the right of every individual to be different. Is that not a freedom? If I want to cut all my hair off; I can do that. By the same token, if I want to wear my hair long and in a pony tail or braids; I can do that also.
In fact, in this country, we appreciate those who march to a different drummer. Even though some of us secretly might like for others to follow the same path we do.
It is difficult for a farmer to spend his whole life building up his farm, only to find out that his sons do not want to farm.
I came across a story of a man who came to America from Europe in December of 1936.
The pilot boat that brought the boat he was on into New York harbor, also brought newspapers for the passengers to read as they arrived.
When the man picked up the newspaper, the New York Times, the headline read: "Walter Lippman criticizes President's foreign policy".
He said that it was unbelievable that a man dared to write something in criticism against the head of the government; that a newspaper dared to print it; that people actually dared to read it. When you have lived under Hitler for three years, this is a miracle.
The right of free inquiry, of vigorous dissent, the right to be different is the very foundation of the freedom that we cherish. We are often fond of saying; If God wanted us all to be alike, He would have made us robots.
Next, is the courage to experiment. This country began as an experiment in peoples living together. The diaries of the governors of the first colonies reflect the failure of a communistic, or socialistic, government.
They found out pretty quickly, that from all to each, did not allow for equality among the people. A lot like our welfare, and sosh security systems today.
We are a country that has not been afraid to experiment. And we have been in the forefront of technology because we experimented.
I recall a story I read once, about the Mennonites. When they were in Europe, the Russian revolution pushed them out into the wilderness areas away from the populated cities. The weather was too harsh and cold for growing wheat, but the Mennonites experimented and came up with a type of wheat that would withstand the bitter cold of winter.
The Russian leaders eventually ran them out of the country, and many of them emigrated to the US of A, and brought their winter wheat with them.
Because of our experimentation, we have found ourselves ahead of the rest of the world in medicine, agriculture, armament, electronics, and overall standard of living. Rather than keeping all of the good stuff for ourself, we chose to share it with the rest of the world.
That is what makes America great!
Thirdly, I would suggest that what makes America great is our faith in spiritual values.
Our forefathers believed in more important values than material things. Man does not live by bread alone. They had convictions based on spiritual values and they stood behind them.
They believed that there was an ultimate rightness and wrongness that was written into the very nature of the universe. When you read any of Dr. E Stanley Jones' writings you find out real quick just how much the older generation believed the universe was guided by the same moral code Christians lived by. Our greatest ideals are rooted in our Christian heritage.
We are the wealthiest nation in the world, and we also give the most to compassionate ministries.
Recently, I came across some information that you may have already known about; but for me it was the first time I saw it.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?
Five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, and another two had their sons captured.
Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated.
But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton, of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. (How may con-gress critters today would be willing to live this way?) His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.
Vandals, or soldiers, looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middletonh.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.
Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:
"For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
That is what has made America great. Men and women who loved freedom more than security.
Which reminds us, that freedom is never free. And across our great nation today, we are finding more and more citizens that value security more than they value freedom.
I had heard through a local news radio station, that the state legislature had enacted over two hundred new laws during a session.
There is no freedom in law. Laws are only designed to promote security; which ultimately curtails freedom.
Finally, I would highlight that freedom; true freedom can only come from God Almighty. Freedom from slavery to this world means ultimately slavery to God. Jesus said we cannot serve two masters. That is true! We will either be content with freedom or we will chafe until we have security.
However, by receiving the freedom that God provides, we also receive an ultimate security.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
As we celebrate this Independence Day, two centuries down the road; let us pause to reflect on the price that has been paid for us to stand where we are today. And determine how long Old Glory will continue to wave, if we are not willing to give up our fortunes and our very lives to perpetuate the freedom that has made this the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Let's go forth from here to live in the freedom that Jesus Christ fought to bring, and not in the security that man tries to bring.