In his most trying hours, Abraham Lincoln turned to God for guidance and wisdom. Willard L. sperry, a former Dean of Harvard Divinity School, said of Lincoln: "He is one of the few men in history, our own history and all history, whose religion was great enough to bridge the gulfs between the sects, and to encompass us all." n1
Elton Trueblood, Abraham Lincoln: Theologian of American Anguishm (New York): Harper and Row, 1973), preface
Lincoln himself said, "If we cannot give freedom to every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature." n2
ibid., m p. 54
Human greatness is humility. It honors God. It escapes any attempt to define it as personality, yet is shown in great depth of character. Lincoln had such character to a remarkable degree.
Many great men and women have understood and honored God enough to place freedom -- and the power of achieving it -- in His hands. This trust, a mark of humility, is not inactive, cowardly, uncertain. It is humane, Christian.
It is no accident that the struggle of authentic Christendom to root and spread is linked to the history and definition of freedom. When the Bible began to be published in vernacular languages in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries , resistance to all forms of oppression was strengthened. People were learning about their God-given rights. Injustice in society had to yield. Freedom, then , is more than a function of nationalism.
Christ Jesus showed people how to be free. He said, "If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." n3 The deep freedom Jesus taught, however, was not political, though it has a clear bearing on political liberty. Jesus' freedom was freedom from sin, from the belief that man is a finite soul with animal instincts, aggression, an unsatisfied urge to seek greatness through control of others. this freedom would come, he knew, through the spirit of the Christ.
n3 John 8:36
The Christ is in the world today, in the conciousness of men and women everywhere, telling them that they are actually God's sons and daughters, living under God's justice alone; that they can rise in this perception to fulfill the law of divine Love, which destroys animality, aggression, lust for power.
The spirit of freedom seems always under attack. Jesus once said to his opponents, "Now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God." n4 The Master gave us the one great defense against antifreedom forces when he turned to God alone for liberty. We begin to measure his greatness when we realize how completely Jesus renounced human power and position. He could do so because he realized that God has all power in heaven and earth. And we also must acknowledge and obey the invisible, all-powerful, moral and spiritual force of God if we are to taste real freedom.
n4 v. 40
Mary Baker Eddy says: "Two personal queries give point to human action: Who shall be greatest? and, Who shall be best? Earthly glory is vain; but not vain enough to attempt pointing the way to heaven, the harmony of being." n5
n5 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. 268.
Christ, Truth, is the essence of all real freedom on earth because it unfolds the power of God alone. The greatest men and women do not seek merely to be great. They seek to be good -- unselfish, honest, faithful to the ideal of justice for all. any culture that honors such ideals will be under attack from within and without. But Christly qualities, like those just listed, will eventually put down all egotistical, coercive thrusts for glorification of mortals and their mistaken concepts.
In our friendships, our family life, our work and societal obligations, we can honor the Christly idea of love and justice for all. All nations can and will learn to do the same. God empowers such ideas to swell the tide of freedom. And we prove that God is supreme.