As the USA prepares to celebrate our 244th birthday, it will be a day unlike any we’ve seen in our generation.
In many, if not most communities, there will be no fireworks or parades due to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s changed everything. Large gatherings are out. Beaches are being closed. And communities having fireworks, are urging people to stay home and watch them from the safety of their own backyard.
In fact, instead of this being an occasion to celebrate what’s right with America, we’re seeing an emphasis on criticizing what’s wrong with our country.
In recent weeks, we witnessed massive peaceful protests from shore to shore denouncing racism, inequality, and police brutality. Unfortunately, there has arisen a radical element not seeking to improve America, but to destroy her. Fueled by anger, unrest, ungodly attitudes, and political agendas, we’ve seen businesses looted, buildings burned, police officers assaulted, private property damaged, public property defaced, statues destroyed, and cities besieged by mob rule.
People are on edge. Privates business and public leaders have sometimes overreacted to ridiculous demands for fear of being labeled a racist. Some are being unfairly labeled simply because they do not support certain fringe groups or spout politically correct slogans. Arguments are even ensuing, with political implications on whether or not to wear a mask.
Unfortunately, and sadly, Christians have not been exempt from the pressures of the current climate. It’s past time for all of us who wear the name of Christ, to take a deep breath, look inside ourselves, and most of all look to the Lord for guidance. Maybe, this year instead of celebration, it’s time for introspective spiritual reflection.
#1 We’re all created in God’s image.
We say that, but do we really believe it? It’s true (Gen. 1:27). The soul of a white person is no more important or precious than the soul of a black man, Hispanic, Asian or Indian. In fact, the Bible affirms that “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth (Ax. 17:26). That’s ALL Americans. And ALL people.
#2 We’re primarily citizens of a heavenly kingdom.
Regardless of our race, ethnicity, or national origin, our true “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20) We are “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). In Him, there are no social, racial, or national distinctions. There are no second class citizens. All share together the same spiritual privileges. The same divine protection. And the same God-assured promises. Our heavenly citizenship ought to take precedence over any earthly citizenship.
#3 Regardless of background, we’re all sinners saved by grace.
While we patriotically celebrate our heritage, we ought not to feel any superiority because of our race or nationality. Among us, “there is none righteous, no, not one…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10,23). We’re all sinners saved by and bought by the blood of Jesus (Ax 20:28; Rev. 1:5). We have nothing to boast of, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:14). We’re not perfect. But thank God, we’re pardoned.
#4 The greatest freedom we can receive is spiritual.
While we revel in the freedom guaranteed by our US Constitution and work to make this a more perfect union, where all people are treated equally, our most important freedom is in Christ. In John 8:32 Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Spiritual freedom supersedes social, political, or financial freedom. The Truth frees us from the shackles of Satan. From the bondage of sin, shame and guilt. From feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and insufficiency. And from attitudes that fuel anger, resentment, rage, and revenge.
#5 Our personal views need to be guided by godliness.
It’s possible among Christians to hold differing positions politically and personally, yet respecting our brother’s individual conscience. Pursuing the things that make for peace. Refraining from being judgmental. And being careful not allow our good to be viewed as evil (Rom. 14). Additionally, practicing the “Golden Rule” in our relationships will solve many problems and soothe hurting hearts (Matt 7:12).
#6 Let your light shine in a sin-darkened world.
In our various relationships socially, politically, domestically, and professionally, let’s reflect the light of our Lord. Our good works ought to glorify God (Matt 5:13-16). We can each pursue our various interests and activities while displaying the attitude of Christ (Phil. 2:5).
Light-shining involvement in making the world and our country a better place ought to be prefaced by prayer for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:2). And practiced with these divine admonitions:
“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1Pet. 2:16-17)
In this context, the observation of our late President Ronald Reagan is worth noting, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” He also warned, “If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under.”
As we reflect on the current state of our country, Abraham Lincoln’s sobering words need to be heard and heeded, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Brethren, let us not “bite and devour one another” (Gal 5:15). Rather, let us love one another. Celebrate our freedom in Christ. Conduct ourselves righteously. Pray fervently. Sow seeds of goodness. Work to make our country better. And share the Good News of the Gospel–the answer to all our ills.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman