The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the right and the responsibility to serve both God and country. This week Americans celebrated the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, 56 brave men signed the declaration that eventually brought about the creation of the United States of America.
In the Book of Mormon – Another Testimony of Jesus Christ ancient American prophets state over and over again that the Americas are favored country. A prophet by the name of Ether watched his nation destroy itself and then left a record of his people. He writes, “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12; italics added).
Other ancient prophets made similar statements about this land being protected and kept from the knowledge of men until the Lord saw fit to lead people to it. Think of this promise: America can stay free from bondage and captivity by worshipping Jesus Christ. It is no wonder that Satan and those who follow him are trying so hard to marginalize Christians!
President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares his thoughts on this topic in a book titled Be Your Best Self, an excerpt of which can be found here. He asks, “Are we today serving the God of the Land, even the Lord Jesus Christ? Do our lives conform to His teachings? Are we entitled to His divine blessings?” He includes some headlines from today’s newspapers that show an increase in crime and then gives the following quote from Abraham Lincoln calling for a national day of fast.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. (Proclamation for a National Fast Day, March 30, 1863.)
We know from the date of this proclamation that the United States was in the midst of a great Civil War at the time. Will it take such a terrible experience to persuade Americans today to turn to Jesus Christ? President Monson says that there is a way out of the “frightful condition” that currently envelopes us. He says that we can do it by following the counsel that Jesus Christ gave to a lawyer when he asked:
`Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said unto him, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew22:36-39.
President Monson suggests that each American first “love the Lord, our God, and with our families serve Him in righteousness. He says that the way back is not nearly as steep or difficult as people might think and that God will help all “those who humbly seek it.”
By seeking God in personal and family prayer, we and our loved ones will develop the fulfillment of what the great English statesman, William H. Gladstone, described as the world’s greatest need: “A living faith in a personal God.” Who can evaluate the real worth of such a blessing? Such a faith will light the pathway for any honest seeker of divine truth. Wives will draw closer to their husbands, husbands will then more appreciate their wives, and children will be happy children, as children are meant to be. Children in homes blessed by prayer will … be taught integrity, which is primarily a matter of early training. To teach the young to love the truth above personal convenience is the basis of it. They will be taught true courage, which becomes a living and attractive virtue when it is regarded not as a willingness to die manfully, but as the determination to live decently. They will be taught honesty by habit and as a matter of course. Our children will grow physically from childhood to adulthood, and mentally from ignorance to knowledge, emotionally from insecurity to stability, and spiritually, to an abiding faith in God. Such is the power gained from loving the Lord, our God, and serving Him in righteousness.
President Monson suggests a second action we can take, another one taken from the counsel of Jesus Christ. He suggests that “each American love his neighbor as himself.”
Before we can really love our neighbor, we must get the proper perspective of him. One man said, “I looked at my brother with the microscope of criticism, and I said, `How coarse my brother is.’ I looked at my brother with the telescope of scorn, and I said, `How small my brother is.’ Then I looked into the mirror of truth, and I said, `How like me my brother is.’” …
If we are not careful, our thoughts and plans to aid others in making this a better world in which to live will remain just that – thoughts and plans. As humans we cannot really see very far ahead; we need, therefore, to take each step with all the wisdom we can muster. While sensing what lies dimly ahead, we must do confidently what lies clearly at hand. Decision is of little account unless it is followed by action….
The rich satisfactions that come from loving our neighbor as ourselves are not ushered in at any age to the sound of drums and trumpets, but rather the satisfactions grow upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we realize that we have reached our goal….
President Monson reminds his readers of the famous poster from World War II with “Uncle Sam pointing his long finger and directing his piercing eyes at the viewer.
The words read “America Needs You.” America truly does need you and me to lead out in a mighty crusade of righteousness. We can help when we love the Lord and with our families serve Him, and when we love our neighbors as ourselves.
America needs righteous individuals now. We can, as individuals and families, come to the aid of America by following the commandment of Jesus Christ and the counsel of the living Prophet of God. We can bring many blessings into our lives and into America by loving and serving God and by loving and serving our fellowmen.