God Bless America? He already has — America, bless God!
Rom. 8:28 And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.
Today is July 4th, Independence Day. There’s going to be hot dogs, barbecue, there’s going to be fireworks! And there’s going to be music: the Star-Spangled Banner; My Country Tis Of Thee; This Land is Your Land. And, of course, God Bless America.
God bless America, land that I love Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies To the oceans white with foam God bless America, my home sweet home
God bless America indeed! May God always bless our nation and its people, because He always has, and His blessing is the lifeblood of our nation. God has blessed America, just look around: the land is beautiful, abundant, and free. America isn’t perfect, but neither was David – God blessed him just the same, and so he has also blessed our nation. He “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, . It is right and good to ask for our Father’s blessing on our nation and people.
But because He’s been so faithful in blessing us, it’s also right and good that America bless God. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” so it’s important that we show the love, and bless God Who has so blessed America. That’s how we can fulfil our role as a nation in God’s kingdom – when we bring our glory and honor into it (Rev. 21:26).
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”
Our nation is very special – but any nation will be special that blesses God. That’s why our nation is special. From the beginning, America blessed God. Our Declaration of Independence acknowledged not just the Laws of Nature, but Nature’s God. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.”
I can’t remember the last time I heard the average joe on the street say that it is self-evident that all men were created, let alone created equal. Our people love their unalienable rights, but it has been awhile since the average joe on the street acknowledge that these come from our Creator. At least in New England. But “maybe it’s time we get back to the basics of love” here in America – and America bless God.
Connecticut is known as the Constitution State because its constitution was a model for our nation’s constitution. Its first words were: “For as much as it has pleased the almighty God by the wise disposition of His Divine Providence…”
Similarly, the first Continental Congress opened in prayer. They asked for wisdom and blessings, and closed with the words “All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ thy Son, our Savior. Amen.”
Martha’s Vineyard’s own Jonathan Mayhew is known as the Spiritual Father of the American Revolution. He was hoping to continue his family’s legacy of ministry with the Vineyard Wampanoag church, but they had no need of a pastor at the time – God had other plans, and called him to Old West Church in Boston. There he coined the phrase “No taxation without representation” and preached that the doctrines of Christ are the foundation of a free and just society. John Adams was a member of this church.
He said, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved Independence were … the general principles of Christianity … I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that the general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
His son, John Quincy Adams, was once asked why Americans love the 4th of July so much, almost as much as Christmas itself! He answered: “…Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
To the same man are also attributed the words, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
The founders’ goal was not put the church at the head of the state, or vice versa, as had been tried so many times before. In Medieval Europe, the Church headed the state. Then during the Protestant reformation in England, the King made himself the head of the Church! But American founders, Christians of all stars and stripes, believed in the soul freedom of “We the People”, and that the rights to that freedom came from God. “The glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).
In order to protect that sacred Christian freedom, they founders didn’t put a Pope in charge of the government. They didn’t put a King in charge of the church. Instead, they chose a new path that had never been tried before: no King, no Pope, just We the People. They put individuals in charge of their own destiny – the individual is sovereign in America. Just like the Protestant Reformers rejected any religious mediator between man and God, so the Founders rejected a political mediator between man and his God-given freedom. This is a profoundly Christian idea.
We know that America isn’t perfect. We know of the contradictions of the founders, like Thomas Jefferson who advocated for an America without slavery, and yet was a slaveowner himself. The American founders were inspired by Christian principles, by their own understanding of them – nonetheless, that inspiration stops short of God Himself founding this country. God founded a nation indeed, but it wasn’t America – it was the Kingdom of God, whose foundation and cornerstone is Jesus Christ. He is our first allegiance.
Our job as Americans, and as patriots, is to pray God bless America, and also, America bless God! In his “Farewell Address”, George Washington spoke of the importance of our Christian faith. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars.” Elsewhere, he wrote, “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
In 1799, the Maryland supreme court declared, “By our form of government the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed on the same equal footing.” Supreme Court Justice John Jay, who was one of the writers of the Constitution, also said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty — as well as privilege and interest — of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
God Bless America, and America Bless God. In America, we are not powerless to bless God, and to live by our God-given conscience. Thank God we have the freedom to do so. Thomas Jefferson said: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?”
The Spirit of the American Revolution is well-summed up by John Hancock who said, “Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
God has blessed the whole world in that he did indeed create us equal, and endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He has blessed the whole world in giving His only Son, so that anyone who believes in him will know this truth, and the truth will set them free – and He has peculiarly blessed America in that this gift of freedom is protected here, so America: bless God!
And that’s the spirit of July 4th. John Adams wrote of Independence Day that it “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 forever.”
So, today, as y’all enjoy your hot dogs, barbecue, and the inevitable fireworks – we all know that fireworks cancellation isn’t going to stop anything! — also reflect on your role as a Christian in America. You are a royal priesthood, your first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, and in that way, you are much like the Founders who believed the same of themselves.
Remember that the Kingdom of God is a government – a ministry, in old-fashioned lingo. We are agents of God’s government. What is our job description? I always say, Harry Potter has the Ministry of Magic, 1984 has the Ministry of Propaganda – the Kingdom of God has the Ministry of Reconciliation. That’s the ministry of love and forgiveness. That’s what our freedom is for.
Just like George Washington said, all the patriotism in the world is nothing if we aren’t grounded in our faith, in our religion – in the Spirit of Christ. The worldly freedom the Founders wanted for America was not for nothing – but it was for the spiritual freedom gifted to us by God in Christ. And that spiritual freedom isn’t for nothing either – it’s for love. Let’s cherish that and not let it go. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1).
Amen to that. This 4th of July, remind yourself and everyone else where our freedom and rights come from. They don’t come from the Constitution – they come from God. The Constitution is there to help us get out of His way!
This 4th July, remind people why Jesus set us free: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13)
God bless America, amen! We’ll be singing that all day long today. And also, America bless God, amen! – we’ll all be singing the words of Psalm 103:
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his gifts:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.