What does “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” mean to you?

declarationI’m a Patriot. There are many reasons (like an appreciation of our founders and a family line of soldiers back to the Revolutionary War), but for brevity I’ll narrow it to one…purpose. It’s stated in the famous, thoroughly-deliberated-over, intentional words of the document declaring it:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As a Christian, I consider it important to be able to articulate what “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” means in view of scripture. Sure it means opportunity, but not to fulfill materialistic dreams. It’s a chance to live a life reflecting God’s precepts and pass along a great heritage. Besides, if we don’t who will?

First, is the “created equal” part which many progressives claim while pushing an agenda. Yes the “equal” part is important regarding human rights and discrimination. However, if the “created” part is left out, then all that’s left is a humanistic “you-can’t-judge-me” philosophy. The truth of being created is the sole premise of “endowed” and “unalienable”. That’s why my position is to celebrate life…old, young, unborn or infirmed. Life is a precious gift from God and I’ll never accept the idea that there’s a right to take it on demand. Along with the gift, as Creator He also designed the family unit to care and nurture young life through the growth process. This is a sacred trust given to my wife and I, and we don’t take it lightly.

Equal also means that as a follower of Christ I have a seat at the table in the public square. The battering ram of political correctness is a weapon used by many to silence opposition. The pressure is on for those of us who believe the Bible to sanitize our message and empty it of the true reason for the “why” behind the Gospel. Our love of country should motivate us to share truth in love, declaring that sin is real and our need for a savior is urgent.

Second, is the “pursuit” part. Since we do indeed have a Creator, what are His precepts for “Life, Liberty and Happiness”? Consider:

  • Work – In the beginning, man was made to work. Yes, believe it or not, Adam was made to work and have a God honoring purpose before sin ever entered into the world. Work is not a punishment for sin, but a hard-wired part of our DNA. Genesis 2:15 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” The difficulty of work is what came with sin and the curse (Genesis 3:17-19). There is great value in differentiating between the two for ourselves and our children. The principle Paul wrote about in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “…If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” is one that we should model and promote as a society. I want to honor God through my work ethic.
  • Attitude – I must choose to be content. Greed and envy fuel much of the popular opinion surrounding us. Whether it’s “punishing the rich” with more taxes or feeling entitled to something not earned, there’s a growing spirit of covetousness. The underlining factor is old-fashioned selfishness and I should model a pursuit of happiness that looks different. I’m called to be a man that does not love the world or conform to its pattern (Romans 12:1-2 & I John 2:15-17).
  • Freedom – This one costs. Many brave men and women paid the ultimate price for my liberty. The truth is though, some of the freedoms enjoyed by people are not ones I personally practice or consider healthy. Even some of their speech is offensive, but I’m not inclined to silence them. Why? Because the scripture shows from the beginning; God gave Adam freewill to make choices and has continued that model through history. Jesus coming to pay for sin was a direct result of Adam and Eve’s choice. Freewill is a fundamental part of God’s design and I’ll fight for truth, not silence.

The words “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” initiated a long costly battle for the ones who signed onto them. I pray I have the same resolve to carry the heritage forward!

From the Archives: Edited from the original-posted on 1/17/13

About cchrisholland

...husband, dad, pastor, teacher, and chronic day-dreamer
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