A City on a Hill
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Thanksgiving Reflections: A City on a Hill
The source of real liberty is from God. It is this liberty that tells the true story of the founding of the United States.
[Darris McNeely] One of the things that we always give thanks for when we gather Thanksgiving is liberty, freedom, the freedoms that we have in the United States of America that are part of our history, our constitution, our laws, and the founding stories of our country. We should never forget that.
There was a famous sermon that was given by the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a man named John Winthrop, a very famous sermon where he declared that we, speaking to his people then shall be as a city upon a hill and the eyes of all the people are upon us. He's speaking to his congregation, the people there, Puritans, as they're known, who had founded this colony based on religious freedom. And he said, "You're gonna be lights of the world."
Now, Winthrop was actually paraphrasing Matthew 5:14, where Jesus said to His disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." You are the light of the world. A disciple of Jesus Christ is a light to the world. And Winthrop was using that to describe their goal and their mission as people would be looking upon them.
When you think about the light of a Christian and the disciple, the ability that any of us have to model, to display the light of God's grace and glory through us in our example is because we have the freedom to do that, the freedoms of this land. And this is why these people came, the Puritans, the pilgrims, and founded these original bastions of freedom, Massachusetts Bay Colony being one of them in that land. They were looking for religious freedom. Their Scriptures were... All kinds of Scriptures were in their mind.
One from Leviticus 25:10 that says, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all of its inhabitants." These people felt they were embodying these very Scriptures, both from the Old Testament, and the New Testament, and what they were doing. And it had a very strong impact, not only in America but other nations. One of the other leaders of what was the Plymouth Plantation, a man named William Bradford, he wrote a book called "Of Plymouth Plantation." It was widely read. Even back in England at the time, it had influenced people who were seeking to gather more freedom and liberty for the common man in England, from the laws of parliament and the King of England at the time.
And so these traditions of freedom, of liberty, of self-rule that we see beginning to be planted in Plymouth Colony, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony are very important to our right to worship. Historians know this. It's part of our story. It's part of what we want to remember as we eat our Turkey, pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and frankly, even deal with the problems of COVID during this particular Thanksgiving season.
Historians bring out in enriched detail, this freedom of worship that people had at that time. Historian Ken Spiral writes this about the Puritans. "Having had their right to worship denied by the decrees mandating a uniform liturgy back in England, the Puritans were anxious to make sure no human being ever held that power over the conscience of others, religious freedom, freedom to worship God, according to your conscience. That's what they were looking for. In the words of another Puritan preacher, Roger Williams, he said, "It is the will and the command of God that conscience and worship be granted to all men, and all nations, and countries, and enforced uniformity of religion denies the principles of Christianity.
When human government interferes with one's religious convictions and freedom, then it's impossible to be a light.
That's important to understand in our present day in the United States, which has been a haven for persecuted pilgrims all through its history, regardless of their religious persuasion, their ethnicity, as they have come to this land. And yes, some even forcibly brought here, but ultimately granted their freedoms, ultimately the freedom to live, to worship God, to worship according to your conscience will come because people have that fundamental freedom guaranteed by God originally, but guaranteed a freedom of conscience. Without that, there will be oppression.
Now, this is interesting. It's important that we consider it. I mentioned COVID recently. We're in the midst of the Thanksgiving season and also a spike again in the COVID rates and possible further lockdowns, depending on what happens in the coming days, even impacting our upcoming holiday season, according to certain mandates. And it's important that we watch these things very, very carefully and we'd be aware of what's taking place.
Frankly, many worry and I worry that infringement upon religious freedom can be done already. Certain even Supreme court justices have been warning about the possible infringement upon religious liberty in some of the mandates that have been made, in some of the States in the United States. We need to be very careful about that. And being careful means that we understand where we come from and what is the, again, origin of true religion.
God gave man freedom. God gave man liberty. America was founded upon the principles of religious and personal freedom. And that should never be forgotten. That's part of the true story of the founding of the United States of America and what we have today while we deal with the issues of our time. Never forget that. Let it be something that we always be thankful for and we gotta very careful with that.
That's BT Daily. Join us next time.