This past weekend our nation celebrated, on the fourth of July, Independence Day, also known as America’s birthday in the United States. It represents America’s separation from British rule. When the United States gained its independence, the population was around 2.5 million. Today the population is about 330 million. America is not perfect, but it has proven time and time again when we allow the biblical foundation of our founders to bear down on us that God-honoring course corrections occur. America is not perfect. It took a bloody civil war to free over 4 million African Americans who lived in slavery. It took another hundred years for these Americans and their descendants to be given full equality under the law. Still today, more work needs to be done to ensure equal opportunity for everyone. As long as we live in this fallen world, we will need to fight to focus on Christ and allow Him to direct our paths into His preferred future for us.
America, as a nation, is a cultural and political mosaic. America is a place of possibilities and hope. Not everyone can embrace these possibilities and feel this hope, but we who are God’s church has the responsibility and privilege to do good by living justly, loving kindness, and to follow Christ by walking humbly (see: Mic 6:8). God calls we His church to be a “city on a hill that cannot be hidden” (Matt 5:14). Jesus’ disciples have the kingdom life within them as a living testimony of the hope and freedom found in Christ. It is this hope and freedom that leads us to walk and live in a way that brings glory to God.
Our culture today is quite unsettled. How are we Christians to live, especially in today’s turbulent culture? I would say that the very first thing a believer needs to do is pray. Prayer is not a passive response but an effective one (see: 1 Tim 2:1-2, 8 & 2 Chron 7:14). When we pray, we release the resources of heaven to work in the lives, and in the very situations, we are lifting up in prayer. I have found that prayer changes me as I seek the Lord’s will. Through prayer, He continues the work of making me an image-bearer of Christ and leads me to act for His glory.
As I look at our nation, I believe that most Americans honestly desire what is best for their families and our country as a whole. We may disagree on how to proceed into a preferred future, but we must learn to work together. We all have our faults and failings. We all are works in progress. No one is an exception to this truth. We need to seek unity wherever possible and offer mercy and grace at all times while standing for truth. Paul, writing to the Philippian believers writes:
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:1-4).
Here, the unity spoken does not imply a drab intellectual uniformity; rather, we are to use our diverse gifts is an agreeable, cooperative spirit, with a focus on the glory of God.
As ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20), we pray and obey. Praying, in part, exhibits and builds our trust in God. However, it is never to be an excuse for laziness. We pray and obey. We partner with our Lord, where He is working and leading, to see “His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). With the Spirit’s leading and by His power, we are to be salt and light in this world. Believers are called to share the love and message of Christ with others drawing people to Him. We are not to reflect the hopelessness, rage, and social media madness of the world, but model hope in Christ, the real peace found in Him, and the true transformational power of God in the life of the person, lives of the family, community, and yes nation who places their faith in Him.
Lastly, we need to remember that God is still on the throne. We still live in a fallen world, but one in the capable hands of an all-powerful God who loves His children and has, through Christ, provided our true independence from sin and its eternal consequences. In Christ, we are offered abundant eternal life (see: Jn 3:16 & John 10:10). No matter how out of control things may seem, God is still on the throne and always will be. We need to trust and obey.
I hope that as we celebrated our nation’s independence, we did so understanding our true freedom found in Christ. We don’t celebrate a perfect nation. How could we as imperfect people? But we can celebrate. God is on the move. He has worked in and through our nation and continues to do so. We, His church, are still on mission to be disciples who make disciples who make disciples. God is good and does good in the life of a person, and people focused on Him. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!