I am grateful to live in a place where we have freedom to worship, freedom to live, freedom to enjoy. We stand on the shoulders of men and women who gave their lives so we could live in luxurious freedom and abundant supply. I can say with a thankful heart and a free voice: Happy Birthday, USA! And thank you.
I’m just a pastor, but I’ve been around long enough to see how tangled up we get when it comes to our allegiances. We have to be careful to not expect too much of the United States. Is the US founded on Christian principle? Yes indeed. Functionally centered on Christian ethic? Not really. Here’s how this plays out: Freedom, life, liberty, etc… these are the principles of life in Christ. 1776 was a banner year for Christian Principle, much of which we still enjoy today. But Christian Ethic, where the people of a nation-state uniformly and unilaterally carry out the holiness of God every day? That’s not the US.
That’s the Kingdom of God.
Our idolatry is revealed with sayings like “my country is going to hell in a handbasket!” While we want our best lives now, it’s unrealistic to expect that a nation will not be affected by human darkness. I don’t like everything that happens in the US, but I’m also not surprised when something goes sideways. Are you?
Our idolatry is revealed when a Christian leader insists that God’s judgement will come as hurricanes, tsunamis, Kirk Cameron movies, etc. The judgement for sin was paid for on the cross. Are you attempting another crucifixion because a nation built on freedom violates your personal values? Maybe that’s because you’re a sojourner in a strange land that is not your home. Again, shouldn’t be too surprising.
Our idolatry is revealed when our anxiety goes off the charts by a Supreme Court ruling. Perfect love casts out fear. Are we afraid because of the tarnishing of our idealized nation, which is merely an idolized manifestation of the Kingdom?
I am a citizen of the United States. I have a responsibility to pray for, support, shepherd, love, and live with allegiance, which is easier here than anywhere else in the world. However, I am ultimately a citizen of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God isn’t run by a 3-part government. It’s run by a King who happens to be at the center of everything.
I can’t expect the government to abide by the ethic of the Kingdom of God. However, the government can expect me to live like Jesus as a citizen of His Kingdom. This is the greatest challenge of living as “foreigners and aliens” in this world (1 Peter 2:11).
Happy Birthday, USA. May I be faithful in following Jesus and spreading His Kingdom wherever I am.
Cook some meat. Wave the red, white, and blue. Fire up some works. And pray that God blesses the USA through the citizens of his kingdom, carrying out the works of Jesus in our neighborhoods and communities