Liberty and justice for all
The very first Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892, simply read, “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1923, the words, “the flag of the United States” were added to the pledge. In 1924, the words “United States of America” were added. And in 1954, the words, “under God” were added.
But although the pledge itself has undergone small changes over the years, what has remained constant is the ideal that each and every person has a right to liberty and justice.
Ask any patriotic American and they’ll tell you that we know that liberty and justice come at a great price. They have been handed down to us by those men and women who have gone before us fighting for our freedom and even sacrificing their lives for the cause. So, it isn’t as easy as just being “born free” because freedom, as they say, isn’t free.
The same is true about our condition before God. We are not born free, but instead we are conceived and born as slaves to sin (Psalm 51, 1 Corinthians 2).
Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” but without being set free from sin, death is the only other choice. The Bible is clear: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3, 6)
Like the freedoms won for us by the blood of American fighters, our freedom from sin and death must be won for us through blood as well. The guilt we have inherited, as well as the penalty we deserve, must be satisfied because God is just.
But we are so enslaved to wickedness that the blood of millions of people would still not be a worthy enough sacrifice to reconcile us to God. Nothing we could do or sacrifice can make up for our rebellion. Therefore, it was only by his mercy that God has given us liberty — true freedom — through the blood-sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
He has given us justice, too. However, justice has not been served against us – who deserve the punishment – but God took it upon himself out of his love for us.
For those who have faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, you have been set free. Paul writes in Romans 6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” And in chapter 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
So, dear Christians, what do we do with this new-found freedom? St. Peter tells us, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”
With liberty and justice from God himself, you are now free to live according to God’s will. Seek him through his word. Gather together in worship. Live your lives in faith toward God and love toward one another.