It was on this day, January 6, 1941, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress “in an effort to move the nation away from a foreign policy of neutrality. The president had watched with increasing anxiety as European nations struggled and fell to Hitler’s fascist regime and was intent on rallying public support for the United States to take a stronger interventionist role.”
At the close of his address Roosevelt said that he looked forward to a world founded upon 4 essential human freedoms–freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear.
Those of us who’ve enjoyed the good fortune to be born in the United States of America have always known those four freedoms. But like any privilege, it’s easy to take it for granted. Think about what they mean. Especially to those of us who are Christians.
(1) Freedom to worship.
We enjoy a blessing not enjoyed in all countries and civilizations. We can openly attend church services. We can worship as we believe the Bible teaches. We preach the gospel from our pulpits. And live according to our faith. Of course, this is what we are called by God to do regardless of the political system in which we live (Eph 4:1-3; 2 Thess 2:14).
In recent years the Christian faith has been under attack more than any time in my life. Our moral values are questioned. Our beliefs are not politically correct. And in some cases churches are being threatened to get in line with our “enlightened” culture.
Regardless of what happens in the future, let us remember our right to worship God according to scripture is in a deeper document than our constitution.
(2) Freedom of Speech.
We can openly profess our faith in Jesus Christ. Share the gospel message. And evangelize the lost. In some countries that is not possible. Those professing Christianity are punished, jailed and in some cases executed. While we have not reached that point in our country there are many who do not like us to publicly speak of Jesus for fear of offending Jews, Muslims or atheists. We’re asked to keep our beliefs about marriage and morals to ourselves.
It’s ironic that some on the political and religious far left want the freedom of speech to say what they please. Regardless of how outrageous or offensive it is. But Christians are supposed to keep quiet about Jesus.
Like the apostle Peter, when commanded by the religious leaders not to preach Christ, I can only speak the things that I have seen, heard, and believed (Acts 4:18-20).
(3) Freedom from want.
While there are still people in our country who suffer need, we are materially blessed beyond measure. Even the poor people in the United States are far better off than many people around the world. We have much to be thankful for.
However, there is a different kind of “want” that is satisfied spiritually. The apostle Paul prayed in Philippians 3:20 “that God will take care of all your needs with the wonderful blessings that come from Christ Jesus.”
Our spiritual and emotional needs of forgiveness of sin, freedom from guilt, and reconciliation with God are met in Jesus Christ. Indeed “all spiritual blessings” are in Christ (Eph. 3:20). And as an added blessing, I have never seen the righteous hungry or begging who belong to God’s family. That need is met by fellow Christians.
(4) Freedom from fear.
When Roosevelt spoke about this freedom 76 years ago, he was concerned about the rise of Hitler and the oppression of people in Europe. While that threat has been suppressed, there are still people around the world who live in fear. And there are constant fears regarding terrorists attacks or other dangers in our own country.
However, there is good news for those in Christ. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). The Bible teaches “that perfect love casts out fear” (I Jn 4:8).
Although we can encounter some situations in life that raise concerns, we can find comfort in Christ, consolation in His promises, and the courage to face any challenge and overcome any difficulty. When faith faces fear, faith wins!
On this day, give thanks for the freedom you enjoy where you live. Pray for our rulers that we may continue to have these freedoms. And most of all thank God for the freedom we can receive from the bondage of sin and the shackles of Satan.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman