Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
Happy Fourth of July Weekend! The Fourth of July falls on a Sunday this year and I hope that you will be joining us for worship. We would invite you to wear red, white and blue to church. It will be a festive Sunday with songs of faith and hope. We will sing and pray for the United States of America on this our 245th birthday.
I love our country and I love the people of our country. We proudly fly the flag outside our home. I find no particular tension between my faith and my patriotism. They both have a place in my life; the key is to put them in their proper place. The shared history of the United States is inspirational and flawed, visionary and marked by sin. It is a human story of triumph and tragedy. Every nation has its own story to tell and there is something to learn with each retelling. Jesus said that, “the truth would make us free.” It is important to tell the truth, that we might be set free and learn the lessons of history.
The Bible is clear, there is nothing wrong with love of country. By birth or choice, we are connected to this land, this place, and our duty as citizens. We should work together for the common good of all people; that is God’s intention for us. The government has a critical role to play in the betterment and ordering of society. We need good leaders and good government.
The Bible is clear, there is nothing wrong with love of country as long as we understand our order of allegiance. We are to love God above country, family, community, or workplace. We are to love God first and foremost. The God who desires good for all people. The God who created the people of every land and race. The God who created planet earth with no predetermined borders or favored nation status.
God first, all our other allegiances follow in line after that, taking direction from our primary allegiance. We all have a responsibility to pay taxes, to support our citizens, to care for the immigrant, and to keep the laws of the land. But if there is tension between God and country, then we are to always follow the teachings and leadings of God. If our government, or our parents, ever ask us to do something that is inconsistent with our calling to follow Jesus, then we are to refuse or resist. No area of our lives or ethics should be outside of our pledge of allegiance to God.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! Give thanks for patriots who sacrificed that we might enjoy freedom. Grill those burgers, enjoy the fireworks, ask what you can do to make our country a better place, and keep your eyes on Jesus. Love God and love your neighbor before you pledge allegiance to country.