As we approach the fourth of July, I can’t help but think about the state of our Union. Yes, I am speaking about the United States of America. Before I say anything else, let me be clear that I speak first and foremost as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is my greatest hope for all of us who claim the name of Jesus, that we understand deep in the depths of our bones where our primary allegiance should reside and that is with none other than the Crucified and Resurrected Jesus Christ. With that being said, I am also someone who believes in the uniqueness and exceptional nature of our country. As we prepare to celebrate our 245th Independence Day, I have been thinking about what a wonderful gift it is to be a citizen of the United States.
Earlier this week I came across a few pages from Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French philosopher who wrote the classic work Democracy in America. In that two-volume set, de Tocqueville recalls his experience of life in the United States. He spends a good deal of time talking about the importance of religious faith in our country and it’s unique contribution to the success of democracy. When comparing the religious nature of the United States and France, he notes, “In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found that they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.” Isn’t that an incredibly powerful statement!
From our earliest times, faith in God has been one of the central foundations of the democratic ideal. Our faith causes us to care, not only for other people, but to have deep concern for our neighbor, the widow, the orphan, and countless others. Because of our faith, the democratic experiment was able to thrive, in large part because Jesus teaches us to “Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves”.
Over the course of this weekend, you will undoubtedly engage in all the proper festivities of Independence Day. I will certainly be eating burgers and watching fireworks. But more than that, on this 4th of July, I will be praying for our country. I will be praying that in an era of increasing secularization and polarization, that we will rediscover what has always made us great, namely that our faith in God will lead us to a greater faith in each other! I hope that you will join me this weekend in praying that God will continue to bless America.
Grace and Peace,