If you were paying attention at all in American History class in school, you’ll remember that line. It was the one memorable line of a speech that Patrick Henry gave before the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. He is credited with having swung the balance in convincing the convention to pass a resolution delivering Virginian troops for the Revolutionary War. Among the delegates to the convention were future U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. He concluded his famous speech by saying, “I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
Patrick Henry considered the possibility of liberty….or perhaps the potential loss of liberty to be a monumental thing to fight for. Apparently, the other members of the Virginia Convention agreed. For, after a few minutes of absolute quiet,….they agreed with Patrick’s plea to dispatch troops for the battle.
Freedom is a wonderful thing! It has an extremely high value. But, then again, it came at an extremely costly price. I sometimes wonder, though, if we appreciate it as much as we should, living in America. I think it does me some good from time to time to reflect on the reality that there has actually been bloodshed so that we can live in a nation so great….and so Free. If you need a reminder watch “Saving Private Ryan”! It’ll do as much to jumpstart your patriotism as anything I can think of.
Spiritually speaking, we’ve also been given liberty.….and not to minimize the liberty we have as a nation at all….but the liberty we’ve been given as believers came at an even greater price. It too was a result of bloodshed! Only this time it wasn’t by some great military effort that we attained freedom. Nope….it was the willful act of one solitary Man that purchased our freedom…..once and for all. The battle would never have to be waged again!
The question would obviously be raised, “What did we become free from?” Good question. First off, and it’s a big one, we are now free from sin…..and, equally as significant, the penalty of it (which is eternal separation from God)! And, if that’s not enough for you….we have been set free from the Law and the penalty for breaking that, too! Oh, …..and don’t forget the freedom from “dead religion” – you’ll appreciate that one, as well!
“We have been called to liberty,” that’s what Paul said in one of his letters. (Galatians 5:13) And, it saddens me that anytime we start talking about liberty around the church…that some over-religious, self-righteous, Pharisee-minded (well, I better stop there!) person immediately starts talking about compromise and sin. Paul went on to say that we shouldn’t use that liberty as on opportunity for the flesh.
I seriously doubt that any of us are living out the extent of freedom and liberty that Jesus died for us to have, and that grieves me. But, I’m working on it; it’s on my list of things to do! And, if it’s true that we aren’t living out the fulness of that liberty that He’s purchased for us at such a costly price…..then we’re not experiencing the fulness of life that we should be! I think I’m going with Patrick Henry on this one…. “I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”