Alexander Campbell was very appreciative of the freedoms he found in the United States.  His father-in-law was given the property in what is now Bethany, WV for his service during the Revolution.  When he established Bethany College, he set Commencement on July 4.  Thankfully this practice had changed by the time I attended, because not only did the old term end, but the new term began the next day.  At the beginning of the service for graduation, Campbell would read the Declaration of Independence.

For Campbell, the concept of freedom went along with the desire to provide an education.  Campbell, along with the Founders, believed that Americans could only maintain their freedoms by being an educated electorate.  Campbell also believed that being educated in the Bible and our faith was the best way to become servants, Disciples of Christ.  As Disciples of Christ, we are to study and come to our own conclusions, but at the same time, our faith was to remain in communion with others, even when we disagree.  Our denomination was to be a reflection of separate states united in the cause of freedom.

Over the interceding decades, we as Americans and Disciples, have cherished our freedoms, but have often neglected the responsibilities of being educated and working together for the common good.  We strive only for what we can get for ourselves and for our families.  We might expand that circle to include friends and some colleagues, but rarely beyond that.

Over 236 years ago, people set aside a lot of their differences in order to gain their freedom from England.  A group went so far as to put their names on a document and publish it.  If England had won, these people would be among the first to be executed and their families would have been imprisoned.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”.

We also hear the words of Jesus to all Disciples, “No greater love has anyone than that they lay down their life for another”.  There was never a stipulation that we be related or acquainted.  We need only know that it must be done, as Jesus did for everyone.  The funny thing though is that it isn’t always a demand for our lives.  But may be a demand of time, or energy, or talent, or resources so that a life can be saved.  We ARE our brothers and sisters keepers.  We demonstrate our commitment to the freedom of Grace by caring for others, just as we demonstrate our commitment to our freedoms by being responsible citizens of this nation.

We are to be a people of one nation, united.  We are to be Disciples of one God.  Let us celebrate this Fourth of July by rededicating ourselves to seeking the best for all the people in this nation and rededicate ourselves to the God that taught us the strength of love.

Shalom, Darrell