From the Pastor's Pen
From the Pastor’s Pen . . . .
In just a few days, the nation will observe the 244th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. I, for one, think that’s still something worth celebrating. True, there are some who have decided that there is nothing about America that merits celebration. At this moment in history, the ne’er-do-wells are making a lot of noise and putting on a vivid display of chaos and violence, swollen with arrogant bravado, like a puffed-up toad trying to intimidate a rival. Make no mistake, these people really do hate America. They really do believe that the very foundations of this country are evil and derive from racist ideology. They honestly think that the world would be a better place without America (as we know and love it), and they have been emboldened to pursue their destructive agenda with abandon. We dismiss, down-play, or deny this threat at the nation’s peril and, indeed, the peril of Western Civilization.
But that is not the focus of my thoughts as we approach Independence Day 2020. Rather than emphasize our present peril, we will do well to step back and view these present crises in historical context. When we do, we will find that America is still the greatest nation the world has ever known. And yes, I’m still proud to be called an American. Allow me to offer a few reasons why.
America’s Foundations are Strong. This nation was founded on godly, biblical principles as no other nation (except the ancient nation of Israel) has ever been. Her founding documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—are not merely consistent with biblical principles, but also express them in terms that guarantee individual liberty, the right to pursue personal fulfillment, and the right to expect equal justice under the law. These principles are still part of America’s DNA. They reflect who we are as a nation. They are our heritage and our path forward. And collectively, they are unique in the world of nations. Respect for America’s foundations may wane and waver with the times. It is true that the “liberty and justice for all” proclaimed in the Pledge of Allegiance has too often been denied to too many. But part of the beauty and genius of our founding documents is that the unending pursuit of a better, fairer, stronger, more perfect union is “baked into the cake” of America. The “cake” may not always turn out as desired in every generation, but the problem is with the bakers, not the recipe.
America still seeks the good. America may not be alone in this club, but the roster is small. Most nations of the world unabashedly seek to prosper at the expense of others. America, as no other nation in history, has sacrificed her own for the liberty and freedom of other nations who have little but gratitude to offer in return. Think I’m wrong? One need only view the thousands upon thousands of grave markers of American soldiers buried on foreign soil to remove all doubt. The complexities of the geo-political world these days may blur the lines of good and evil, but our goal remains to ensure liberty, not tyranny, for all.
America is still governed of, by, and for her people. In most nations of the world, the powerful elite see the people as a nothing more than tools to use and abuse in their quest for power. Are there such leaders in America? Absolutely. But they do not define America. Rather, they are like ugly warts that are a constant source of embarrassment and irritation. Even the worst offenders have to put on the veneer of being champions of the people. And when they do achieve positions of power, it is because we the people placed them there, and we have none to blame except ourselves.
Americans rise to the challenge. The country is facing unprecedented challenges these days—or so they tell us in the news. To be sure, the crises are real and present challenges we the people have not faced before. But is it not so with most major crises we have faced? Do we not always, perhaps by definition, enter crisis mode because we are ill-prepared to face the challenges presented? America has experienced many potentially existential threats before: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and two World Wars, to name but a few. Each one brought unprecedented challenges, and victory was not always sure. But Americans rose to the challenge. And by the grace of God, we saw victory. Through the years, we were challenged by the moral atrocity of slavery, the social and economic collapse of the Great Depression, and the Spanish flu of the early 20th century. But in each case Americans rose to the occasion and, by the grace of God, saw victory. Today, we face unprecedented challenges in the pandemic, social unrest, and economic distress. But though the challenges are unprecedented, so are our resources. And America will emerge through them stronger, wiser, and better than before.
The United States of America is not a perfect nation . . . but it is closer than any nation on earth. While that may sound boastful, it is in fact an expression of deepest humility. America is not the best because we are better, smarter, wiser, more righteous people than others on earth. We are the best because some 244-plus years ago, our forefathers decided to build a nation God’s way (some were conscious of this and some were not), and for the most part, we have followed the trail they blazed before us.
I make no claim to what the future holds for America. Moreover, the Lord speaks scathingly of those who cry “peace and safety” when there is none, and that certainly is not my intent here. We have our problems, and when these are resolved there will be others. Furthermore, America is not mentioned in Bible prophecy. Eventually this glorious experiment we call the United States of America will come to an end. But one thing is certain: we have the “recipe” for remaining the greatest nation on earth until the Lord comes again. What we do with it, and how, is up to us and to the rising generation. And yes, I am proud to be an American, a citizen of the greatest nation on earth.