Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" Rom. 8:31

Happy Two Hundred and Forty-First Birthday America!

Last night the sound of early fireworks boomed throughout my neighborhood. Today, in celebration of the Fourth of July, Atlanta hosts "The Peachtree" the world's largest 10K race. On the Mall in Washington D.C. people will picnic as they wait for the annual concert and fireworks display. Other major cities like Boston and New York will follow suit.

On a smaller scale all across the country cities and towns will have parades and special holiday activities. Families and friends will gather for picnics, cookouts and celebrating because today's a special day. It's America's birthday.

In his letter to his wife Abigail dated July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote that after much serious debate and hard work, the Declaration of Independence had been finalized. The decision to formally separate from England had been made, but none expected the British to pack their bags and leave without a fight. Adams believed the fledgling nation would survive and that the events of July 2nd should be remembered by future generation with much fanfare.

It's this letter than some point to as the foundation for all the festivities surrounding the Fourth of July. However, whether intentional or not, an important portion of this correspondence is overlooked or purposely ignored. Adams wrote:

"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of the Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more" (emphasis mine).

Adams insights are remarkable. Although he wrote of celebrations spanning the continent, the thirteen colonies only comprised a relatively small portion of what's now the east coast of the U.S. The lands to the west were uncharted and outside the boundaries of the colonies. Yet today, Adams words are fulfilled - from one end of the country to the other, people are celebrating.

More important is the portion of this often quoted letter which is used to justify America's exuberant remembrance of its birthday. Adams declared that in addition to all the festivities, this was also to be a day to remember that it was God whose help was need to found the nation and that He was to be thanked for His goodness to us.

Involving God in almost anything today is considered politically incorrect and worse, embarrassing. Those who came to settle this nation, many for religious freedom, are now characterized as opportunistic conquerors. It is true that mistakes were made, wrong things happened. Because they believed God was behind the establishment of this nation, He gets a bad rap also and is better off left out of the mix.

Perhaps our nation would experience a greater sense of unity and brotherhood if we heeded Adams admonition. In addition to all the fun and games a time for reflecting on how our country came into existence with the help of God so freely acknowledged at that time, should cause Americans to take a step back and ponder. If this is so, what have we done with this gift of freedom we've been blessed with? Are we really "one nation under God" or an ever expanding cadre of splinter groups who neither need nor want Divine Guidance?

The Founding Father's weren't perfect and certainly not a homogenous group. They were opinionated, they disagreed often and didn't always like each other. However, they recognized that if this experiment we call the Republic of the United States was going to work, it would take more than human willpower, grit and determination. They sought help from a higher and greater Authority.

Paul's words weren't written specifically to the United States, but they contain an indisputable principle that our nation's founders counted on for success. Being on God's side was critical if the nation was ever to get off the ground and succeed. Despite their differences the framers of the Declaration of Independence looked to God for solutions and found them. We'd be wise to follow their lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment