Today is the 242nd birthday of the United States of America. For the first time in my life, I’m out of the country for the 4th, although just across the border in Ontario, Canada. But I don’t have to be “home” to know that America is hurting.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that the number of US citizens who consider themselves “extremely proud to be an American” has sunk to an 18 year low. In fact, for the first time, the number fell below 50%.
This year’s July 4th celebration comes at a time of increasing political tension. Today, some of our own elected leaders are calling for riots and worse. Incivility seems to be the new social norm. If Facebook posts are any indication, there is sharp social and political polarization between many groups of people, even Christians.
Add to this the alarming increase of mass shootings that are occurring in our country. No place is exempt from violence. Schools. Streets. Social gatherings. The workplace. Even churches.
As our people and political leaders debate illegal immigration, the economy, trade, Supreme Court nominees and a host of other concerns, let us be reminded that our greatest problems are not political or social. As William Bennett expressed it, “the real crisis of our time is spiritual.”
The words of God to King Solomon at the beginning of his reign, when He appeared to him in the night, are appropriate for our age 3,000 years later.
“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14)
I understand that America is not God’s people is the same way as Old Testament Israel. In fact, the fondness many have for calling America a “Christian nation” is neither politically or Biblically correct. While there is an influence of Christian principles in our documents, there is nothing in the Constitution that makes such a claim. The name “Christian” is used in the Bible to refer to individual followers of Christ, not nations.
So, let us, as God’s people apply this ancient, Divine counsel to our lives.
(1) Humble ourselves. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” (Prov. 29:23). We need to be reminded that God has blessed us. Our personal and collective affluence, success and greatness is the result of a benevolent Creator.
(2) Pray. Humility leads to earnest prayer. Pride takes us away from prayer. Paul exhorted that we should pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-2). Would it be too extreme to suggest that prayer might be more effective and efficacious than vitriolic Facebook posts ranting and raving against our leaders?
(3) Seek the Face of God. If our nation is to be healed, we must come to the great Physician for the spiritual balm so badly needed. Our 30th President Calvin Coolidge once said, “We do not need more national development, we need more spiritual development.”
(4) Turn from our Wicked Ways. It is not enough to know what is right, we must do it. We must turn from both the practice of sin and the approval and tolerance of it.
While it is easy to apply these principles to others, perhaps we all should look within our own hearts to see whether we are really being “the light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13-16).
Rather than cursing the darkness and criticizing others for our nation’s ills, let us live for the Lord. Love others. Let our light shine. And lead the way.
Happy birthday everyone!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman