Good morning from Westminster, MD!

In my last post I wrote about my new perspective on the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. I also referred to quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in which he quotes the Declaration of Independence. The referenced line from the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths 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.”

In his speech, King says says he dreams of a day when our nation will live out this beautiful statement. As the 4th of July, Independence Day in the United States, approaches it is a great time reflect on the profoundness of this dream- A country, and maybe even a world, in which all people have equal opportunity to thrive. Why wouldn’t we want this dream to become a reality? What a picture of hope.

The hope found in this statement from the Declaration of Independence drove our Founders to put everything on the line to create a country that demonstrated these truths. For many it did and it created incredible hope. Unfortunately, for others it did not and it fueled hopelessness.

Instead of enjoying the benefits of new found freedom, the abuse of African-Americans through the system of slavery persisted. Unfortunately, even after slavery ended, systemic and systematic racism continued to put this freedom and the “American Dream” out of reach for most Black people. The land of opportunity was not, and in some ways, is still not the land of equal opportunity. However, the story is not over.

As I reflect on Independence Day as the “self-evident truths” found in the Declaration of Independence, I share the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe in the power of real hope, both spiritual and tangible. I want to live in a country and a world filled with that real hope. I want to live in a world that reflects my belief that each of us were created on purpose and for a purpose. I want to be able to say I did everything I could to make that dream a reality.

This is why our current moment in history is so important. We cannot let this opportunity to affirm the God-given value of all people by standing with our Black brothers and sisters pass us by. As a Christ Follower I cannot stand on the sidelines while fellow Creations of God are treated as “less than”. As an American, I cannot claim the words of the Declaration of Independence without seeking equality for all people, regardless of the color of their skin.

This Independence Day, let’s resolve to make the beautiful picture painted in the Declaration of Independence a reality, bringing and restoring hope to all people. Let’s create a world in which Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness is equally available to all. Let’s make Dr. King’s dream come true.

James Belt

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