God Bless America!
During this week’s 4th of July Celebrations, the stars and stripes of “Old Glory” again flew in festive parades and front porches across the United States America, as we celebrate our 241st Independence Day.
My flag flew between bright red and white rose bushes in my front lawn garden. I may need to plant some Texas bluebonnets next year, to round out the patriotic display!
Along with the happy celebrations, this annual holiday should prompt some holy reflections, since true freedom ultimately comes from God. King David said, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” (Psalm 119:45) This greater freedom comes from putting God first and obeying His commands.
In this “greatest country on God’s green earth,” to quote radio commentator Michael Medved, we enjoy many freedoms. Today, we can enjoy the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to elect our leaders. All of these were secured by the dedication of our Founding Fathers.
If we fail to remember and reflect on these freedoms or selfishly demand them for ourselves and fail to courageously secure them for others, we will progressively lose our freedoms. Patriotism may seem parochial to a new generation, and every man will do what is right in his own eyes. A nation’s common history, culture, and values need to be honored and acknowledged by school children, brave members of our military, and the cultured elite, alike.
At a friend’s church last Sunday, on this Independence Day weekend, there was nothing featured to highlight biblically-enjoined patriotism. For instance, while other churches were having patriotic acknowledgments and celebrations, in his church there was no American flag on the platform or patriotic song on the program. There was nothing to highlight or honor our religious freedoms and civic responsibilities. My friend doesn’t think this was intentional but, none the less, carelessly overlooked.
I can remember, as a young “Cub Scout,” being instructed to add the words, “under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance. The year was 1954 and, at President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s urging, Congress had legislated that this recognition of our submission to a sovereign God be added to the pledge, making it read:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Though this action has faced much criticism in the decades since that modification, it still stands to remind us of our historic acknowledgment of a common belief in the one true God of the universe.
When a Jewish teacher asked Jesus which one commandment was the most important, He replied (Mark 12:29-31) with two. The first was the Jewish daily affirmation of faith, “Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.” Then, he called them to daily obedience by pointing them to the second great commandment, quoting Leviticus 19:18, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” These words by the Jewish Messiah and our Saviour must become our common confession of faith and devotion.
The competing claims of false gods and the radical violence from their devoted disciples are sweeping our world. Every Islamic terrorist attack [We haven’t encountered any Baptist terrorists, yet!] begins with the shout of superiority from an attacker declaring, “Allahu Akbar,” which means “Allah is Greater” or “Allah is the Greatest.”
We need to affirm our patriotic commitments to a country which still formally acknowledges, in our national motto and money, that our freedoms are from the one true God, the Maker of heaven and earth. In this time of extreme political correctness, let us pursue biblical patriotism, religious freedoms, and civic responsibilities while affirming our loyalty to and patriotic pride to be citizens of this great country.
May our God continue to bless the United States of America!