What comes to your mind when you think of Independence Day, which is celebrated each year on the 4th day of July? Most of us think of barbeque, family, friends and, of course, fireworks. If the truth is told, few of us reflect on the reason for our celebration.
In schools around the country, children are taught that the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, declared the 13 American colonies free from British rule and free to serve God without British control. We call that Freedom of Religion! What a wonderful blessing it is to live in a country where we have diverse religious worship and laws to protect that precious freedom! However, the freedom of religion that we enjoy today did not occur until brave, black spiritual leaders broke away from the mainstream Caucasian-ruled denominations, and
establish movements such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME in the early1800s); the National Baptist Convention (1895); The Church of God in Christ Movement (1897); Catholic expansion to black people (turn of the century); and many other black religious movements.
Ephesians 3: 12 reminds us of another kind of freedom, a freedom that is even more precious than the freedoms guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence “In [Christ] and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” We can be confident in our “freedom of speech” and our “authorization to approach” God at any time. The more we reflect on this invitation, the more we’ll come to realize
just how precious freedom is.
Pastor R. Mario Howell