FIRST-PERSON: A visit to Plymouth, Mass.
PLYMOUTH, Mass. (BP) -- We are all in search of freedom, peace and happiness. These ideals are priceless. They were God-given gifts, but sin introduced mankind to slavery, war and suffering. That is why God sent His Son, Jesus -- to restore the world through repentance.
In Matthew 4:17, Jesus preached His first sermon in which He declared, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." Man can only find freedom, peace and happiness when he repents of his sin and is no longer possessed by the world but instead chooses to possess the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 11:28-30; John 1:4-5; John 1:12-13; John 3:16).
I recently visited the town of Plymouth, Mass., where a group of 120 people who came to be known as the Pilgrims landed in 1620. The story is a familiar one: They boarded the Mayflower and crossed the Atlantic Ocean in what they saw as a search for religious freedom, peace and the right to a pursuit of happiness. Upon arriving in the New World they faced much hardship. Many of them did not survive the first winter and were buried in a strange and foreign land without seeing their dreams come true.
These early Pilgrims built Plimoth Plantation, a colony where they could live together and worship God freely. They are our forefathers of faith who laid biblical foundations for future generations. And now, nearly four centuries later, America has grown into the greatest nation on earth.
More than ever we must preserve their legacy of faith. We enjoy freedoms today because of their willingness to trust God even in the midst of uncertainty. In John 15:13, Jesus says, "No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends." Freedom is not free! There is a costly price to be paid.
The hymn writer Elvina Hall (1820-1889) wrote "Jesus Paid It All": "I hear the Savior say, 'Thy strength indeed is small, Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.' Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."
May we live in the freedom that can only be found in Christ!