The Price of Freedom
When Christ was preparing His original 12 world-changing pioneers, He made the cost clear to them:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues.” (Matthew 10:16-17)
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’” (Matthew 16:24 -25)
What price did these first disciples eventually pay to partner with Christ? Were Christ's words simply symbolic language, not to be taken literally? Surely He wouldn't actually allow His followers to lay down their lives, would He? History answers these questions:
● Andrew was crucified.
● Bartholomew was crucified.
● James, the son of Alphaeus, was stoned to death.
● James, the son of Zebedee, was beheaded.
● John, the son of Zebedee, was tortured and banished to the uninhabited island of Patmos.
● Peter was crucified upside down.
● Philip was crucified upside down.
● Thomas was martyred in India.
● the apostle Paul and John the Baptist, not part of the original 12 disciples but two of Christ's early leaders, were beheaded.
To be a true disciple of Christ - and a nation-changing pioneer - we must be willing to lay down our very lives. This mindset should permeate and influence all we do and live for. And if we are to see America turn, it is one of the non-negotiables. Another quality, therefore, that will be required in order to turn this nation around, is a determination that no cost is too great.
William Wilberforce, who led the efforts to eradicate slavery from Great Britain, understood and demonstrated this. In the great movie about his life, Amazing Grace, Wilberforce's butler surprised him in a moment of private prayer. When asked if he had found God, Wilberforce's poignant reply was, "I think He found me."
Indeed, God "found" Wilberforce, who became so joined to His heart and desires that no price was too great for the cause. This reformer’s passion to see the end of slavery caused him stomach ailments, nightmares, ridicule, and four decades of tireless work.
Days before his death, however, the decisive vote came to eliminate slavery from England. Amazingly, when the law became formal three days after the vote, Wilberforce's spirit left this world! Thomas Buxton, a personal friend and member of the House of Commons at the time said of him, "The day which was the termination of his labors was the termination of his life."(1)
Have you been found? Has the cause of Christ possessed you?
When God led the early Pilgrims to this land - He was obviously involved in the process - they came with hearts willing to pay whatever price the dream would cost them. A part of their stated cause was, "For the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith..."(2) The Pilgrims arrived on a cramped and dirty ship, in sloshing water filled with human waste and vomit. And ill-prepared for the trials of this new land, including a brutal winter, more than half would perish before the end of their first summer.
These Pilgrims weren't failures, however. Planting a cross on the beach where they landed at Cape Henry, and dedicating this land to the gospel and the glory of God, they created a holy legacy. Heaven still honors the trail they blazed and the prayers they prayed. Buried in the soil of freedom, they became a vital part of the heritage we now enjoy. Pioneers all, their legacies live.
The price they paid to create an outpost for the gospel created a debt for those who followed, including us today. The debt we owe is not only to preserve freedom, but it is also to preserve this land as a light of truth - a beacon, a city on a hill - to all other nations. If we pay our debt today, the difficult trail we blaze back to the old road will become the glorious path our children walk tomorrow.
America was formed with the blood, sweat, and tears of many price-paying pioneers. When John Adams was elected as a Boston delegate in 1770, he knew it was considered treason to the King of England; Adams believed the decision would cost him everything. He informed his wife Abigail, "I have accepted a seat in the House of Representatives, and thereby have consented to my own ruin..."(3)
How many today would accept a seat in Congress if they knew it could cost them everything? In Adams' day, by the way, members of Congress weren't even paid a salary - only a small per diem. Not many currently in government would serve our nation without pay, let alone do so at the risk of their lives.
Adams wasn't finished with his declaration, however. After informing Abigail that he had consented to his own ruin, this patriot pioneer continued, "...to your ruin, and the ruin of our children. I give you this warning, that you may prepare your mind for your fate."(4)
Incredible, but Adams had been found! His love of liberty and his belief that God was raising up the United States of America meant that, to him, no price was too great to pay. How did Abigail feel about this? Betrayed? Horrified? Did she threaten to leave him? Not even close. She too, like Wilberforce, had been found. According to Adams, Abigail burst into tears and cried out, "Well, I am willing in this cause to run all risks with you, and be ruined with you, if you are ruined."(5)
What amazing passion these two patriots possessed for the cause! Contrast this sacrificial and servant-motivated attitude with the selfish lust for prestige, power, and financial gain motivating many civic leaders in America today. The difference is disgusting. From buying and selling votes to taxpayer-funded vacations to private jets. For so many, Washington, D.C., has become the home of the rich, the famous, and the exploiters.
At the signing of the Declaration of Independence a few years later, Adams, along with his fellow signers, again accepted the potential and probable cost of freedom: "For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."(6)
Adams would later state to Abigail, "I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means."(7)
If America is to find her way back to the old road, it will be because another generation of patriotic and God-honoring Americans put on pioneer mantles and search for it - no matter the cost. Some will accuse me of inappropriately marrying the love of God and country, but it is my love for God and His cause on the earth that fuels my passion for seeing America restored.
Like Adams and our other founding fathers, I realize God chose to raise up this nation as part of His plan to redeem the human race. America wasn't established solely for us Americans. And it certainly wasn't for the enjoyment of the narcissistic "American Dream" we've allowed our desires to devolve into. Partnering with God in His great dream was to be our privilege and destiny. For this, no cost is too great.
Let's pray and work to end selfishness in the church and in Washington, D.C. Let's cry out for another generation of pioneers who will lose their lives to find His; believers that will accept their debt to the cross and pay any price necessary to lead America back to the old road. “Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it.” (Jeremiah 6:16, The Message)
Pray with me:
Father, we are grateful for those in the great cloud of witnesses who have paid such high prices for our cause. We are humbled by the sacrifices, so many of them have made. We ask You to forgive us in the American church for allowing our commitment to You and Your cause to become so low. Forgive us for preaching watered-down messages and a human-centered gospel.
We agree in intercession today that in the coming revival, hearts will be awakened. Passion for You and Your kingdom will outweigh our devotion to self. Millions will give their hearts to You, and millions more will have their first love restored. You are worth our full devotion.
Heal our broken nation. Lead us back to the old road of truth, integrity, righteousness, and common sense. Lead us back to servanthood, loving our neighbors, and the golden rule. Give us leaders who love and honor You and Your ways. Deliver us from evil rulers. We ask You for this in Christ’s name. Amen.
We decree that the purpose of God for America will not be lost - not on our watch.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book The Way Back.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
1. Dyer, Steven G., Transforming a Nation: How England turned back to God in the eighteenth century. Can it happen in America?. (Oklahoma, OK : Steven J. Dyer, 2010). 54. 2. Mayflower Compact 1620.
3. Bennett, William J. Our sacred honor: Words of advice from the Founders in stories, letters, poems, and speeches. (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1997), p 40.
6. Ibid., p 64.