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Holiday reminds us of religious freedom we have

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POSTED: July 3, 2012 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday is Independence Day. Some people consider it a bummer when a holiday falls in the middle of the week. They much prefer to have a long weekend so they can make a trip or get in some extra recreation and relaxation.

I think it is rather appropriate for this particular day to fall where it does this year.

Think about this with me. The fact is we spend so much time planning our activities that we often forget the meaning of certain holidays. Whether it is Memorial Day or Thanksgiving weekend, there are so many things for us to do that we sometimes fail to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and we also fail to give thanks as we should.

I have no intention of seeking to shame you over this, but I do want to remind you of some wonderful things about this land in which we live. I also hope that my comments will not sound political, because that is not my intention. I simply want us to pause and to give thanks for the gifts and freedoms we enjoy in this land.

There can be no denying that the desire for religious freedom played a role in the founding of the United States. Many people left their native lands and took the treacherous journey to the new world for this specific purpose. And the founders, believers and non-believers alike, sought to protect the freedom to worship, or not to worship, for every citizen.

It was also the intention of the founders that we be allowed to proclaim our beliefs to others. We can seek to persuade others that our beliefs are correct. That is the true meaning of tolerance. Tolerance involves respectful debate and discussion. One of the things that has harmed our country is that we have trouble doing this anymore. Too often, our discussions end up in screaming matches. We are disrespectful in how we approach others. This is abundantly clear on talk radio — even in sports radio!

So how do we change this? The best way would be to follow the teachings of Jesus. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — this verse is known as the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. What a difference that would make in our world.

But here is the kicker: You have to make the decision to do this, even when others do not return the favor. And that is hard. It requires us to have what Paul called “the mind of Christ” in his letter to the Philippians.

I would encourage you to follow the Golden Rule. And I would encourage you more to follow the one who gave it to us. He will make the real difference in your life.

 

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