As I write this, we have just celebrated our national Memorial Day holiday. I wonder how many who took the day off really know what Memorial Day is? What does it memorialize? What is its origin? Where did the courage come from that set the stage for us to have a Memorial Day?
How many of us remember the name of Jonas Clark? Well, if you do not remember him, you should. Perhaps, if it had not been for Jonas Clark, none of you would be reading this Bible Lab. You see, he was a pastor, a very influential pastor.
He was influential enough that the townspeople called him "parson." The word parson is a variant of the word person. The title was given to the most important and often the most educated person in the community. Most of the people in that community attended Jonas Clarks church.
One specific night there was a dinner in town with some people in attendance you may have heard of - John Hancock and Samuel Adams. It was a very particular night actually, it was the night that Paul Revere would make his most famous ride.
At dinner earlier that night John Hancock and Samuel Adams asked Pastor Clark a question. They asked him if war were to break out with England, would the people of Lexington fight? Pastor Clark did not say things like, "I do not know," or "I am not sure." Pastor Clark responded, "I have trained them for just that." The next day "the shot heard around the world" was fired near his church, within only a few yards of the parsonage.
Those killed that day were members of his flock. With love and in anguish he saw the fallen brethren and made this statement, "From this day will be dated the liberty of the world."
Where did the liberty of America start? It started in the church. It started with a parson who was not afraid to speak out against injustice. It started with a man who was not afraid to address the great issues of freedom and liberty. It started with a pastor who was not afraid to speak out against tyranny and oppression.
In Colonial America men like Pastor Jonas Clark were referred to by a military name in honor of what they taught. They were called "the black regiment" because of the black robes that ministers wore at that time. These were the great patriot pastors who preached mountain moving sermons which reverberated throughout the hills and dales of Colonial America.
These were the men whose oratory would bring a new nation into being. These were the men who were the midwives at the birth of freedom in the cradle of liberty. These were the men who taught a simple message of the liberty that is to be found in knowing Jesus Christ. They taught that liberty is worth fighting for; that liberty is worth dying for.
They trained their flocks to understand that liberty can go in one of two directions. Liberty can be used to say that anything goes; this is the liberty which will later imprison the practitioner in the snares of immorality. Or, liberty can be used as the Apostle Paul wrote, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable (beneficial). All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything (physical)." (1 Corinthians 6:12) Liberty which is used as a rational for sin is evil and wicked at its core. Liberty which builds self-discipline and maturity in the Lord is blessed of God.
We all need to ask ourselves two questions. "Is our pastor speaking out on the great issues of our day?" "Are we satisfied with the way that our pastor is addressing the great issues of our day?" The way that we answer those questions tells us a lot about the health and strength of our church.
Jesus, our Great Parson, taught us that we are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's! As Christians we are to be the example to all those who see us of what Christian internal self-government and liberty are all about.
In our nation we are seeing the end of Western Civilization. Our public schools and universities are not teaching about the Christian foundations of this nation and the patriot pastors like Jonas Clark. Instead, many of them are teaching courses on Zen Buddhism, relativism and revisionist history.
The poet William Butler Yeats wrote the poem The Second Coming. In it he wrote about what he saw concerning the end of Christian Western Civilization. "The best lacked conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
In our society the worst are intensely passionate about the "rights" that they have to do all kinds of immoral perversions. The best are often lacking in conviction.
We are in a battle for the minds of people; we are in a war for the Kingdom of God. Will you be filled with a passionate intensity for your Lord, Savior and King? Or, will you lack conviction? If we all had passionate intensity for God, our churches would be full!