Abe Lincoln had an unparalleled love for the Declaration of Independence, yet he mourned what had become of the celebration of Independence Day. "In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery," reports Rich Lowry of Fox News, "Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that 'the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day--for burning fire-crackers!!!'"
He longed for our country to celebrate and recommit to the ideals of the founding fathers--that all men are created equal. Lowry reports:
In his great anti-slavery speech in Peoria in 1854, he said, “I love the sentiments of those old time men.” …
Lincoln wanted to catch the falling flag of our patriotic patrimony. Lincoln urged that we “re-adopt” the Declaration, as he put it at Peoria. The road to salvation ran through 1776, he argued in one passage: “Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us re-purify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution.”
In the pursuit for freedom, Lincoln feared that our country had lost its first love, neglecting at best, and defying at worst, the principles of liberty for all.
If the pursuit of political freedom is to be celebrated and commemorated, how much more should be the pursuit of spiritual freedom! Yet as a church, and as individual members of that church, we continually run the risk of losing our first love. Our robe of righteousness is all too easily "soiled and trailed in the dust." We must "re-purify" it. We must "wash it white, in the spirit, if not in the blood," of Lamb God who takes away the sins of the world.
In Christ we are all created equal and free, and our great calling is bringing that message of equality and freedom in Christ to every generation.
"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent …" (Revelation 2:4-5, NASB).
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36). "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).