They gave allegiance to each other for the ideal of this nation. They were willing to die for the ideal and many did and have died since. My title today is To Die For.
By Pastor Delbert Young
To Die For
To Die For
This is our Independence Day service. Thursday will be the fourth. Two hundred and twenty-six years ago, our nation was founded with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We wish everyone a very enjoyable fourth of July.When the founding fathers of our country determined to break away from England and create a new nation called America, they had an ideal unlike any other nation that existed. The nation they envisioned was unique and a one of a kind. That uniqueness is expressed in the declaration of independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Let’s look at those three thoughts a minute. First, the ideal was that all men are created equal. There should be no prejudice in America. God created us all equal. Secondly, the ideal was that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right. The word endowed means “to give qualities or abilities.” The word unalienable means “incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another.” Not only were we created equally, we were created unique. We are each given unique qualities and abilities and those qualities and abilities cannot be taken away and given to another. The third ideal of the statement from the Declaration is that all men have the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We are free to pursue our own lives and our own happiness and to enjoy freedom. There was no other nation built upon those hopes and promises.
For that ideal, they were willing to die. The beginning words of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence ends with these words, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” They gave allegiance to each other for the ideal of this nation. They were willing to die for the ideal and many did and have died since. My title today is “To Die For.” One would wonder how those men willing to die for America would respond today to the federal appeals panel in San Francisco ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.
Here are a few quotes from some of those great men.
As John Adams signed the Declaration of Independence, he said “I am ready to die in order that this country might experience freedom.”
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
Do we remember the last words of Nathan Hale just before being executed by the British in 1776 at the age of 21? They were, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”That’s amazing to me that a 21-year-old man was willing, ready, and did give his life for his cause.
As I was praying and thinking about those things, Life Gate came to my mind. When we began Life Gate, we were not patterning after any other church. As America broke away from England, we broke away from denominations that were taxing us with doctrine and laws. We had an ideal of a church like the Bible talked about. Our ideal was a church with no prejudice. This was not only prejudice of racial colors, but of gender prejudice, or even believing that the Jew was superior to the Gentile. We had an ideal of a church where we are all priests unto God and where we are all ministers. All men are created equal. We had an ideal of a church that allowed the expression of the gifts and talents that God had given each of us. We envisioned a church where the uniqueness of worship could be expressed. We are endowed with certain unalienable rights. We had an ideal of a church that sought the abundant Life and not the abundant death of the believer. We had an ideal of a church that sought the liberty of worship. We had an ideal of a church that would seek happiness for the believers. We did not see the devil in charge. We saw a kingdom of God where there could be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To us, that was the ideal.
I would not die for a denomination or a doctrine or an eschatology. However, I would die for THE church. I would die for the end of prejudice where all men and women are equal. I would die for the church where all believers are made priests and ministers to our God. I would die for the church where people were taught they can pursue the kingdom of God and enjoy life, liberty, and pursue happiness. I would die for the church that I knew would not only save me, but save my family, my grandchildren, and my generations to come. To that church I have pledged my allegiance, my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor.
As I looked into this “to die for” allegiance, I saw a common thread. There was always a moral cause and a spiritual hope. For those founding the USA, the moral issue was equality and liberty. The spiritual hope was stated in the belief of “the protection of divine Providence.” When the founding fathers were able to communicate the moral cause and the spiritual hope, some people galvanized together to defeat the most powerful nation on earth. I want us to look at a few people through history who were able to do this. Some we are familiar and some we are not. I want us to note their ability to combine a moral cause with a spiritual hope to galvanize people for a cause.
Joan of Ark was a patron saint of France and a national heroine. She combined the moral issue of the oppression of England upon France with the spiritual hope that she, because of God, could help deliver them. When Joan was about 12 years old, she began to hear “voices” and believed them to have been sent by God. These voices told her that it was her divine mission to free her country from England. The voices told her to cut her hair, dress in a man’s uniform and to pick up the arms. She was able to communicate that cause and galvanize people together. She led the troops to a miraculous victory over the English. She was so formidable a leader that when she approached the army at Patay, most of the English troops fled the battlefield.
In 1430 she was captured and tried for witchcraft, heresy and for wearing male clothing. On May 30, 1431, she was burned at the stake in the marketplace. The amazing thing is that she Joan of Ark was only nineteen years old. What made her great is that she was willing “to die for” her cause.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” Dr. King had a dream. He said, “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream . . . I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. combined the moral issue of racial prejudice with the spiritual hope that God is on our side. He preached that all men were created equal. He used the Bible and he used the Declaration of Independence. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a cause and was able to articulate his cause and galvanize people together.
We all know what happened. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. He was great because he was willing “to die for” his cause.
I want to change gears and show us that the combination of moral cause and a spiritual hope can galvanize people to an evil cause. This has been true throughout history, but I will use some that we are more familiar.
David Koresh of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas reported last words were, “I’ll see ya’ll in the skies.” In 1993, Koresh and his followers gave their lives believing that David Koresh was Christ and the government was the anti-christ. Their spiritual hope was they were fulfilling the sixth seal of the Revelation. He combined the moral issue and spiritual hope and persuaded people to literally die in a flaming inferno. He was willing “to die for” his cause.
Marshall Applewhite with Heaven’s Gate in San Diego, California, died along with about 39 others. They died for a cause which said it was time to “shed their containers.” They died believing they would rendezvous with a UFO traveling behind the Hale-Bopp comet. How does a person get others to believe such a thing? Applewhite combined a moral issue with a spiritual hope. The moral issue was that sex was sin and the body was evil. Many of the male followers were castrated. The spiritual hope was that God would take them away to a better life.
An amazing point about human nature is that people are looking for something to buy into. People look for something worth dying for.
Palestinian suicide bombers have killed hundreds of Israelites. 71 Palestinian suicide bombing attacks have taken place since September 2000. Their moral issue is the hatred of the Israelite. Their spiritual hope is that Allah is actually for them and against the Jews. Palestinians have been willing “to die for” that cause.
Osama bin Laden was able to gather and convince people that they could destroy America. How did he convince people to hijack and fly passenger jet liners into buildings? He used the Pakistani moral issue of the hatred of the evil Jews combined with the spiritual hope that Allah is for them. Here are some quotes from bin Laden.
“We are certain – with the grace of Allah – that we shall prevail over the Jews and over those fighting with them. Today however, our battle against the Americans is far greater than our battle was against the Russians . . .
On that basis, and in compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it . . .”
The reason I mention these is because either for good or for evil, each was willing to die for their cause. Each was able to combine a moral issue with a spiritual hope that galvanized people together for their cause. This brought people to a place of commitment that was abnormal.
I want to close our lesson with quote from Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela said in his statement on April 20, 1964, “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Nelson Mandela is willing to die for the ideal that all men are created equal. Several of us were in a conference a few months ago. Bill Hybles used this quote of Nelson Mandela to show that the church is the hope of the world. It was at that time that I came face to face with the reality of “Am I willing to die for my cause?” As I searched my heart, tears filled my eyes and I began holding back sobs. I knew that I would die for the church. I don’t mean die for this building, but I do mean die for what I and many of you have given the allegiance of our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to experience and leave behind.
You see, I am so proud to be an American. It is the greatest nation that has ever existed. Its ideals are so high and so wonderful. How blessed I am to be allowed to live in this wonderful nation.
I am also so proud to be a Christian. I am proud that I am part of a church with the ideal that I can experience an abundant kingdom life now. I have a promise for my salvation and for the salvation of my family and generations to come. I am part of a church that believes there is neither male nor female in the spirit. I am part of a church that does not judge a person by the color of their skin. I am part of a church that understand that we are all different and all gifted. I am part of a church that believes that Jesus can do today what he did two-thousand years ago. I am part of a church that believes that the Holy Spirit is the same today and on the day of Pentecost. I am part of a church that will die for that ideal.
When I am able and when you are able to articulate that moral cause with that spiritual hope, we will touch this region as it has never been touched before.
I want to close by asking, “For what are you and I willing to die?” Are you willing to die for the cause of Christ? Jesus said that he would die for his cause and that if anyone was to come after him, they must take up their cross and follow him. He said that our cross must be the same as his cross. Let’s read that passage in closing.
Luke 9:22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
Luke 9:25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
Luke 9:26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Luke 9:27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
How are we doing? Let’s pray.
Other Related Sermons:
- May 1998 interview, Frontline
- Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, February 23, 1998