What are your plans for this long 4th of July weekend?
Two–hundred and thirty–eight years ago on July 4th, 1776 the members of the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.
After the document was read in public, the patriots erupted in cheers and celebrations.
John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that, "the second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."
How should national loyalty and loyalty to God be aligned as Christ-followers?
Loyalty to God Takes First Priority
The first commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus tells us the most important commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).
Today, if God is mentioned in the public sphere there is an outcry that we cannot mix church and state. Morals and ethics that only can be derived from an authority above man are not allowed in government.
Yet John Adams, one of our founding fathers, did not see it that way.
In the letter to his wife cited above, he begins the 4th of July with an act of worship, "commemorated as a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty." Adams understood that God, being real, could not be removed from the public sphere.
Obedience to God Means Involvement in the World
God’s plan for His followers is not that they become so focused on worship that they are not involved in the world. Jesus told us that we are to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Jesus commissioned his followers to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19).
There may be times we withdraw from the world to spend time with God. Jesus gave us that example by withdrawing to spend time with His Father.
When we are in a correct relationship with God it does not mean that we have no involvement in the world. Obedience is necessary to be in a right relationship with God and obedience means being involved in the world enough to earn the right to share the good news of His Kingdom.
Loyalty to God Creates National Loyalty
"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God" (Romans 13:1). Opposition to government is opposition to God’s ordinances (Romans 13:2).
God established government to keep order in society.
But the government is run by sinful men. Often those men attempt, through government, to assert themselves between us and God––trying to take the place of God.
When government oversteps its bounds we must remember our first love is to God, and where the government is in opposition to God we must stand in opposition to it (Acts 4:19–20; 5:29).
The fourth of July celebrates the Declaration of Independence. That declaration recognizes that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." That same Declaration goes on to explain that the primary purpose of government is to ensure those rights are upheld to every citizen.
The Declaration of Independence is not a philosophical, religious, or theological document. It establishes that the equality of man comes only because they are created by a Creator which contains much theological truth.
Any other philosophical, scientific, religious, or theological theory of man's origins will, ultimately, not lead to the idea that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable right."
What are your beliefs about the relationship between government and your Christian beliefs?
Take some time to think about this––maybe even write it down. Then ask yourself is what I wrote Biblical?
This may be a great conversation starter with your friends this holiday weekend.