I hope everyone had an enjoyable, safe and reflective Fourth of July celebration. Reflective yes – because we have so very much to be thankful for living in this country. In spite of the flaws and division we hear constantly on the news, I do not see masses of people lining up to get out of the United States. And forget all the political rhetoric for a moment, what motivates the vast majority of people to come to our country?
For a very long time this country has been held up as a beacon of light, a place of hope, new life, rebirth, freedom. And sometimes the language sounds very “churchy.” There are those who indeed blur the line between the blessings of living in the United States and what it is to live as a saved and redeemed Child of God.
I thank God for the blessing of being born in this land and the opportunities through hard work I have been given. I still get teary-eyed when they play the national anthem at a sporting event. Our history is filled with the acts and deeds of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We dare never forget the sacrifices so many made over the centuries. And it is important to do our part as responsible citizens of this country.
Now as much as I love this country, I love Jesus Christ even more. He is our light and our salvation. He brings us hope and assurance of the resurrection to life everlasting. That is new life as we are reborn through the waters of baptism. And as Christ saved us from the powers of sin, death and the devil, we truly are set free.
I have to believe that our relationship with Christ empowers us in our daily lives. Do we not live, act, respond in certain ways because of the faith we have? As Jesus is recorded in Matthew 5: “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify you Father in heaven.”
Christians need to be seen and heard in the world doing the work of God. Today we hear all kinds of language, we witness protests, but do we see any of the work that needs to be done? Unfortunately no – that kind of work seldom gets media coverage. Nevertheless, as we examine the needs our nation has, what are ways the body of Christ can be present? Can we live and act in such a way that this land see the church as alive, relevant and connected? By the strength and direction of God, we can. May God bless us in whatever endeavors He calls us to.
The writer is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sidney.