If you listen to popular media very long you might assume Americans have the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of crabbiness. Complaining has long since surpassed baseball as the national pastime. And, there is a lot to complain about, especially for those who love righteousness and justice. Yet, some of it sounds like the little girl who complained the air-conditioner wasn’t working in her Rolls Royce.
The truth is we possess many blessings living in these United States. We enjoy a reasonably good amount of security and peace. We can practice and share our faith in relative safety. We have opportunities to provide for our physical needs, and we have access to a vast amount of goods and services. We have a somewhat reliable infrastructure. And, while diminished to some degree, we still enjoy freedoms which are the envy of much of the world.
Yet, how do those who seek first the kingdom of God feel about the foreign soil upon which they live? The answer to this question affects how a disciple of Jesus approaches the hallowed anniversary of our nation’s independence. Many will celebrate it with barbeque, sports and fireworks. It will be a day to indulge ourselves and tickle our pleasures. Yet, may I suggest a Christian can do something much more selfless and significant this Fourth of July which can be more glorious than the firework show at the National Mall?
We Should Pray For Our Country. Many of the decisions and needs in this country lay frustratingly outside my influence, but they are not beyond God’s! “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1). No one has greater access to the heart of a leader like those who pray to God. No wonder Paul said it should be our first order of business to pray for those in authority, because God can use their leadership to provide a peaceful environment for the gospel to flourish (2 Tim. 2:1-7).
May I suggest that you balance each comment of criticism about your country with an earnest prayer for help to your God? I’m afraid some of us would do little more than pray if this was our practice, and I guess that wouldn’t be so bad.
We Should Honor Those Who Lead Our Country. After all, we will hardly pray for someone we do not value. Amazingly Paul commanded that we are to show governing authorities the honor and respect that is their due (Romans 13:1-7). This is the man who had scars on his back and wrists from Roman whips and chains. He was writing to Christians who experienced the ruthless treatment of Claudius and the murderous intentions of Nero. Yet, his instructions were not formed by his personal frustrations, but they originated from the wisdom of God.
I am afraid the rancorous speech of the political talk shows has found a home in the mouths of believers. Some delight in verbally skewering governmental leaders and roasting them over a pit of ire. However, Christians should be known for the respectful, honest, gentle and caring way they speak of those God has placed in a position of authority (please read and follow Titus 3:1-2).
We Should Shine Like Lights In Our Country. Every believer is to be an advertisement for Christ. Our role in this world is not isolation, imitation, or even intimidation. We are called to illumination. Our conduct among unbelievers needs to be so honorable and our deeds so good that their minds are elevated to think about God (1 Peter 2:11-12,15).
To the eyes of a corrupt culture our walk carries much more weight than our talk. Like our Lord before us we are to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21; Matt. 5:16). Retaliation, bitterness, slander and selfishness has no place among the diplomats of heaven. One of the best things you can do for this country is to do something good for some lost soul to reflect the grace God has shown you! Meet that need. Speak that kindness. Share the gospel. Shine!
We Should Long For Our Heavenly Country. This Fourth of July all eyes will be turned toward this piece of soil which bears our nation’s flag. Briefly, those eyes may turn upward to see the burst of fireworks against the night sky. But, on a day like this, believers turn their eyes longingly beyond the skies. Our homesick hearts yearn with expectation, because “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).
So, this year, while others are singing, “America the Beautiful,” bow your head and whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus!” and have your heavenly passport at the ready.
Your fellow citizen,
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)