We usher the month in with a bang, both literally and figuratively. The Fourth is usually celebrated with barbecues, recreation and fireworks. For most of us (if we are honest), it is a festive day off. But stop a bit and think about what we have here in our nation. “A lady asked Dr. Franklin “Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” replied the Doctor - “if you can keep it.” This was uttered by Benjamin Franklin to a woman who wanted to know what the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had produced. Here we are, 231 years later about to observe our nation’s annual celebration of our existance as a sovereign nation. Enjoy your day off and thank God for our representative republic, our Bill of Rights and the separation of powers that both empowers and limits our government. God has blessed us as a nation; not because of us but in spite of us! He is not on our “side” but we had better seek to be on His.
Do you vote? Study issues? Pray for our leaders (look at 1 Tim 2, 1 Pet 2 - it is a command!). And, do we speak of and to those with whom we disagree with respect? The public lack of it shown to elected and appointed officials (and by officials toward others) is shameful. The Lord commands His people to do good to all men (Prv 3:27, Lk 6:35-36, Gal 6:10, 1 Thess 5:15, 1 Pet 3:9). The overall political tone anymore seems crude, harsh, bitterly partisan and shallow. What ever happened to showing kindness to all men, especially toward those who oppose us? In our society name calling, “spontaneous” protests to shout down ideological opponents, violence in the name of causes is becoming commonplace. To me, such actions indicate weakness on the part of those indulging in it. Almost as if they fear that their ideas cannot prevail in public discourse. But the nastiness comes from all sides. We, as followers of Christ are to be different. We dare not back down from our convictions but we also dare not fight “fire with fire.” Read Eph 4:31-32 - where is there room given us to be insulting and mean - spirited? The challenge for believers (And it is a challenge.) is to give blessing for cursing and to pray for those who abuse us.
Our founders handed us a republic based on representative democracy. In our founding documents they gave us a framework that has served us well for over two centuries. It is a precious inheritance. Value it but do not worship it. God is and always must be the Christian’s first allegiance. And His priorities should be ours as well - to love God and our neighbor.
One final thought - our nation’s independence is a good reason to celebrate. But as members of the family of God we are not independent but inter-dependent. We need one another. As part of God’s church we are dependent on Him and committed to mutual ministry.
Happy 4th of July