The substance of the American Dream is found in those majestic words found in the Declaration of Independence, which state, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This is the American Dream, and it is a great dream.
The dream is derived from the fact that each of us has certain fundamental rights neither derived from nor transferred by the state but given by our Creator from eternity.
The dream that we all pursue...black and white, rich or poor, is God-given and God-ordained. It is a God-given dream because it expresses human beings' Biblical dignity and worth. The American Dream reminds us that every man has dignity and worth because every man is made in the image of God. The concept of the image of God is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected; that every man has the capacity to have fellowship with God.
But America has been schizophrenic in its attempt to represent democracy and to dispense democracy to every man both here and abroad.
As warned in James 1:14, "We have been tempted and drawn away of our own lust and enticed."
The spinning wheels of justice have been wedged by the grinding wheels of economic greed. And our tainted motivations have left many Americans robbed of their basest dream. This is the price we pay when ruling men attempt to circumvent the Creator's design and devise their own anemic democracy.
High atop the United States Capitol in Washington stands the statue of the stately "Freedom lady." The Freedom Lady was brought from Rome during a fierce storm, during which the captain ordered some cargo to be cast overboard. The sailors wanted to include the heavy statue, but the captain refused, shouting above the wind, "No! Never! We'll flounder before we throw 'Freedom' away."
Maybe America's democratic dream has become more elusive because we have thrown God's definition of freedom overboard in favor of our own. A nation that values anything more than freedom is destined to lose its freedom. We, as a nation, have attempted to redefine God's definition of democracy. However, the Psalmist reminds us, "Justice and judgment are the very habitation of God's throne," Psalm 89:14.
In other words, there must be the lash of restraint with every pursuit of freedom. Chuck Colson writes, "Pure democracy compels a man to be swayed by fads, fashion, and the passions of the moment."
That's why John Adams wrote that man's unbridled democracy would lead to "everlasting fluctuations, revolts, and horrors, final requiring police action to impose order." In other words, unrestrained democracy will eventually lead to riotous living. But God is the master of balance and restraint. He alone is the arbitrator of global justice and equality. And those who move by His power alone never fail.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, we see that God used the Apostle Paul as a wise master builder to lay the foundation on which the church of Jesus Christ would be built. But the foundation for Christianity was not laid with warning.
Paul said, "But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay that that is laid, which is Christ."
America has laid the foundation for democracy. But every man who aspires to lead this democracy must take heed how he buildeth thereon. He who aspires in his heart to be greater than Christ is doomed to fail.
America has a great dream. And though the dream has been battered by injustice, bruised by greed, and soiled by arrogance, it is still our dream because it's God's dream. God grant that America will be true to her dream.
Rev. Chestine Sims Jr. of White Hall is the pastor of St. John AME Church at Pine Bluff. The community is invited to join the church for worship in person and on Facebook live at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Editor's note: Pastors, ministers or other writers interested in writing for this section may submit articles for consideration to [email protected]. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry. Writers should have a connection to Southeast Arkansas.