Dear whoever else reads this blog:
The United States of America was founded on three certain, inalienable rights. These include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are found in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Here is my perspective on what these unalienable rights mean for 21st Century Americans.
Before we get into those in detail, I must state where I am coming from. I will have to say that these are weighed heavily by my understanding of who I am as a follower of Jesus Christ. For me, like the ideas expressed by Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was slain this past year. Mr. Kyle says in American Sniper, that it is God, family, country in order of priority and significance in life. Though, Mr. Kyle did wrestle with having the last two obligations reversed.
As a Christian, God is first. I am aligned with God’s ways, even as I am discovering what those ways are in this hectic, fast-paced world. As a husband and a father, my first priority after God is to my family. They hopefully see this in how I live my life.
And yes, I know as a United Methodist, it is difficult to align myself with any nation. We tend not to want to cheer on the American way of life – due to some sense of greed and even being misconstrued in the political realm and not wanting to upset the other political party’s members that are part of our historic and Christian denomination.
So, God is first. This is true because of whom I believe in, namely Jesus Christ. Family is second. This is true because God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and a precious child.
My country is third in priority. Now, those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what do they mean to me?
Life – God has given me life. He has also given life to every other human being on this planet. My need for the basic necessities (water, food, shelter, and clothing) need not harm the life of another human being. This one right does not supersede the right to life of any other human being. God provides what I, my family, and the world need. This inalienable right is tied back to God.
Liberty – God freed me from the punishment of sin through the cross of Jesus Christ. In living free from the punishment of sin, I need not discourage or ignore the idea of other people being free from the punishment of sin. I am not at liberty to keep what I have gained to myself. Being free from sins, another result of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, allows me to have more time for God and family, and even for my country. This translates into more time to worship God, serve him the churches I serve, and to let others know about the liberty they too can have from sin and sins. The snag in this inalienable right is how others view me. There will be some who do not like me having this liberty. Being bound by sin and sins, people will not like the idea of someone being free of both. But wait until they find out that they too can have liberty in this area!
Pursuit of happiness – In some translations of the Bible, the word for blessed is sometimes translated “happy”. Happiness is a feeling, and feelings sometimes, no actually many times, are quite fleeting. But being blessed by God and blessing others is a way of life. Maybe the inalienable right, “the pursuit of happiness,” would be better translated, “the pursuit of blessings.” We have received blessings from God. I thank God for the blessings that he has given me. Blessings also entail the times that I bless others. I want more of the blessings that God has for me. I want more blessings to be noticed and lived by the people with whom I come in contact. It would be good to know that more people are enjoying life – the life that God gives. It would be good to see more people living the liberty that God provides through Jesus Christ. So, it appears that this inalienable right encourages the first two, without impinging on any other person’s inalienable rights.
Being a Christian is hard. People will misunderstand us. It just may be that living these inalienable rights the way that I describe may lead to a better nation. It surely wouldn’t hurt for America to try this on for size. And of course, any other nation on this planet could do the same thing! All of humanity would first need to recognize God, what God has given us, and how we live the life God has given us.
In Jesus Christ’s Service,