Reflections on Independence Day 2013
Just a few days ago, we celebrated the 237th birthday of our nation. Independence Day is always a wonderful holiday, full of family celebrations and good food. It’s also a time for us to reflect on the founding of our country and the current state of the nation. I don’t need to tell you. All is not well with the good ol’ USA. If the Scriptures are right in asserting that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34), then we are on the wrong path.
The sovereign hand of God has been very evident in the founding and preservation of our nation. From the beginning of Plymouth Colony in 1620 to the Great Awakenings that stirred and transformed the soul of our nation, we have been given many spiritual blessings. We need to be aware of and affirm God’s providence in our nation’s history.
But we are not Israel. Americans are not the chosen people of God.
Our founding documents put the power of governance in our hands. We are a democratic republic. In our political system, ultimately, “we, the people” are sovereign. Of course, that truth flies in the face of what the Bible teaches. Only God is sovereign.
Along the way, we have been blessed with some very wise leaders. Though his admonitions were not specifically Christian – he did not generally invoke the name of Jesus Christ in his public statements – the “father of our country,” George Washington warned us that we must rely on God and that religion and virtue must be promoted among the people or our republic will fail. During the Civil War, “In God we trust” was added to our currency. The phrase, “under God” was added to the pledge to the flag in the 1950’s. These phrases have been instituted in the spirit of George Washington and our founders and they represent critical wisdom if our nation is to flourish and survive.
But such notions of reliance and acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty have come increasingly under attack in our courts. We are told that we are a secular nation. We cannot impose our faith and religion on others. Instead, it seems we are all forced into becoming practical atheists, except on Sundays, if we choose. Because of the inherent fallen nature of men, a truly secular democracy – one that will not acknowledge the sovereignty of God - will implode under the weight of its own sin. As God is increasingly pushed to the sidelines, that is what we are seeing in our nation today.
The psalmist writes:
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
…Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 2:1-6, 10-11
Our national folly does not escape God’s notice. He has not lost control. The President is not lord. Neither is the Congress. The Supreme Court does not have the final word. Even “We, the people” are not lord. Only God is Lord. Though we loath it, the increasing wickedness of our culture presents an opportunity for us. It is in the darkness that light truly shines. We who live under the Lordship of Christ have the opportunity to demonstrate the power of the life-changing Gospel.
Let us celebrate the many blessings of our land, but pray and work for repentance. Recognize that it must begin with us. But do not despair. God is still on the throne.
Do you remember the words to the great hymn?
This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought:
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world, the battle is not done,
Jesus who died shall be satisfied and earth and heav’n be one.