Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Today is the 4th of July and like many of you I hope to be enjoying a couple more hamburgers than usual this afternoon. But thousands of American churches are at this moment celebrating the United States of America. There will be flags, perhaps the pledge of allegiance, and even a few country songs dedicated to the US of A. There is nothing wrong with celebrating a nation in a football field or a soccer stadium, but there is something profoundly wrong in celebrating a nation in the Church, because the Church’s purpose is not to celebrate this or any other nation, but to celebrate the holy nation, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, as Peter says. We celebrate in Church the glories of the kingdom of God and the manifestation of His kingdom power in the entire world.
Yet the purposes of God are not separated from His people living in this country. We are very thankful for the privilege of free worship and that no one at this point is breathing down our necks waiting for us to say something offensive, so they can put us behind bars. The Church has always had a profound say on the nation’s life. In fact, as the church goes, so goes the nation, and we are a people still benefiting from the fruits of our forefathers in this nation who were deeply committed to the Church. We bear the fruit of those who lived the Puritan ethic and who had an intense desire to see Jesus enthroned above every kingdom. This has always been at the center of our Reformed tradition. But our duty as worshipers is to give a thumbs-up to our forefathers and then acknowledge that we no longer live in the past. We are a future-oriented people. The faithfulness of some in the past will not sustain the faithlessness of those in the future. If we want the blessings of God in this nation, then we must want the good of the kingdom of God first and above all nations. Proverbs tells us that “righteousness exalts a nation,” but to contrast that it also says, “but sin is a reproach to any people.” Faithfulness and loyalty to a nation is futile if the nation is not seeking and embracing Jesus as Lord. Politics and heritage will die, but the kingdom of God will stand forever. This is our only true hope.
Prayer: Teach us, O Christ, to love your kingdom and to seek the good of the eternal city.