By Ron Wood
The Meridian Star
In my senior year of high school, I entered the Exchange Club's annual speech contest. I chose Patrick Henry's great declaration, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" as the key part of my talk. I won the state championship and a $1,000 toward college. What did Patrick Henry get? He was hanged by the British.
I sat down recently to interview Dr. John Temple, the pastor at Poplar Springs Baptist Drive Church in Meridian. I found in him an ally for the Lord's work in our city.
He is skilled at developing workers, articulate in his writings, and a thoughtful Christian leader. Meridian has many such fine men and women - both in the secular and the sacred arenas - who embody the values and provide the vision that can bless our city. Pastors like him are not just shepherds of their own flock, but also God's guardians of the whole city. They are watchmen on the wall, as should be all true Christian leaders anywhere.
By contrast, I watch many national leaders who seem to be driven by partisanship or personal ambition. They are not leading, not providing vision, just squabbling. Rather than discuss big ideas, they stake out their position and then attack the opposition. So we get more heat than light. No one thinks deeply about the Republic we once had or the greatness it once produced, nor realizes what we are rapidly losing it in just one generation of corrosive moral decay.
In America's early days, our roots as a nation developed around individual liberties and personal responsibilities. Big government did not produce our nation's wealth: the people did. How? Because we are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights, among which is the pursuit of happiness. Endowed and inalienable are two key words. They mean that our rights cannot be removed; that our rights come from God and are not granted by any government.
For myself, I am happier when I am striving to achieve something that springs up from my own dreams and aspirations. Thank God, not everyone looks to Washington DC to give us security at the expense of liberty. If we are not careful, we will trade the illusion of peace and prosperity for our genuine freedom as a people. In the end, we will wind up with neither. What can we do?
Recognize that the price of liberty is vigilance. We are stakeholders in this great nation, so act like a concerned owner. External enemies will never defeat America. But ignorance, ingratitude, lack of civility, and moral decay can. Our idols will surely pollute us.
If we are taught to hate someone based solely on their skin color, their religion, their language, their national origin, even their sexual orientation, then we have lowered ourselves into the dirt of the devil's playground. He was the original author of the spirit of hatred. He inspired the first murder and he is still at it today. When Jesus' disciples wanted to call fire down from heaven on a village because they did not welcome his visit, our Lord said to them, "You do not know what spirit you are of!" Future leaders? Yes, but not yet baptized in the love of God. Any person - Muslim, Christian, Jew, Atheist - can give into a demonic attitude from hell and desire to murder and then justify it afterwards. But that is not our Lord's heart.
Last week in our columns, I noticed issues about radical Islam, racial prejudice, and the end times. In one sense, those issues are about the same thing. Jesus said to expect racial strife and lawlessness. Why? Love grows cold and betrayal increases. Recently I sat with some men and talked about fatherhood, golf, racism, and America's decline. These were not church-goers; in fact, quite the opposite. As I stood to leave, I spontaneously said, "I love you guys!" Later I thought, if Jesus were present, he would have smiled. The fact is ... he was present and he did smile ... because he loved sinners long before I ever did.
Ron Wood ministers at Trinity Assembly of God. trinitymeridian.com. 601-483-8189. Hear Ron on The Father's Power radio show Sunday at 8 & 7 on 103.3FM.