Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction
    January 20 2016 by Ronnie Floyd, SBC President

    On March 30, 1961, Ronald Reagan spoke to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He spoke these timeless words with great conviction:
     
    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” (1)
     
    This champion for freedom was later elected the 40th president of the United States. We should never forget these compelling words. Today, America needs this same kind of vision for freedom.
     

    In America today

    This past Saturday, Jan. 16, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation: Religious Freedom Day, 2016. In his proclamation, he quotes from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was adopted on Jan. 16, 1786, and drafted by Thomas Jefferson. These profound words need to be heard today in every village, town and city in America:
     
    “... all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” (2)
     
    This proclamation offered by President Obama is worth reading and sharing with others. May the mercy of God continue to grant America religious freedom.
     

    On the same day, a miracle around the world

    Interestingly, it was also this past Saturday that pastor Saeed Abedini was released from an Iranian prison along with four other Americans. As you may recall, Pastor Saeed was in prison for his commitment to Jesus Christ.
     
    In the past two years, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Nagmeh, has spoken to our Southern Baptist Convention in various settings. During both of these conventions and privately since, we have prayed for Pastor Saeed’s release. Today, we rejoice and praise God for answered prayer. In my communication with Naghmeh on Saturday, she was thankful to God for the prayer support. Please continue to pray for the Saeed family.
     

    Today, our nation honors another champion of freedom

    Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in America. We celebrate the remarkable achievements of this great American. As a civil rights leader, he stood boldly against segregation, at a great cost. His life was given for racial equality in the United States.
     
    This past November, I spoke in Jackson, Miss., with my friend Dr. Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention. After he spoke to this gathering of leaders, I spoke on the subject “Now is the Time for the Racial Crisis to End in America.”
     
    In the message, I spoke about Dr. King. I referenced the letter he wrote on April 16, 1963, Letter from a Birmingham jail. Then I quoted his words from the final paragraph:
     
    “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.” (3)
     
    This champion stood so tall for freedom, it eventually cost him his life. Thank God for Martin Luther King Jr. We honor him today.
     

    While in Washington, D.C.

    This past Saturday, I spoke at a Free to Believe event with the Family Research Council, which is led by Southern Baptist Tony Perkins. They asked me to help honor our great heritage of religious freedom in our nation.
     
    Saturday morning was a convergence of emotions. As I was preparing to honor our history regarding religious freedom in our nation’s capital, Pastor Saeed was released, and just before I left the hotel, I received word regarding the death of my friend and Cross Church ministry staff member Richard Cox. While experiencing the grief of losing this brother in Christ to cancer, I was overwhelmed thinking of the freedom he is now experiencing in heaven.
     

    In this pivotal time in our history

    Therefore, in this pivotal time in our history, we need to cherish the freedom we have in our nation. We are in challenging days relating to freedom, not only here, but across the world. Even more specifically, we are in a daily challenge to preserve religious freedom in our country.
     
    May the words of President Ronald Reagan ring in our ears clearly: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” This includes religious freedom and freedom regardless of skin color. We need to rise up as champions for freedom in our nation.
     
    Because of the freedom in our land, my friend and staff member who died this past Saturday was able to hear the gospel, which resulted in radical life change. Richard Cox’s testimony is powerful. While we may face days where freedom is at stake, we need to look toward the day when all cares of this world are over. The day we exit this world through death or Christ’s second coming, we will experience complete rest and freedom forever.
     
    But until then, we love Jesus. We love one another. We serve Jesus. We cherish and even fight for the freedom we have now, always looking toward the day when we experience freedom forever. Freedom in the presence of Jesus.
     
    (1) https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan; accessed on January 17, 2016
     
    (2)https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/15/presidential-proclamation-religious-freedom-day-2016-0; accessed on January 17, 2016
     
    (3) https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/letter-birmingham-jail; accessed on January 17, 2016
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. This article first appeared at Ronnie Floyd’s website, www.ronniefloyd.com.)

    1/20/2016 10:31:55 AM by Ronnie Floyd, SBC President | with 0 comments
    Filed under: America, religious freedom




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