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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.

The town of Plymouth still reminds us of this history. Visitors make their pilgrimage, schoolchildren by the busloads, parents with their children. They come to gaze upon the famous Plymouth Rock, where the date “1620” is engraved. The waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash against the rocks on the beach just as they did when the Pilgrims first landed. It brings a tinge of sadness to my heart as I look out on the bay, thinking that they knew the uncertain future they faced.

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.

As we remember the Pilgrims’ sacrifice, we are to help others find freedom, peace and happiness in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Bible says that Jesus gave His life on the cross as a ransom, to pay our debts and to set us free eternally (Mark 10:45; Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 2:14).

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!

    About the Author

  • Paul Kim

    Longtime pastor Paul Kim currently is the Asian-American relations consultant with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.

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