When we hear either of these statements, a lot of things come to mind.
Hot July weather.
Red, white and blue.
Flags. Stars and stripes.
Getting together with friends and family.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken and watermelon.
Swimming in the pool, lake or ocean.
Sometimes in the midst of the traditional memories, we may give little focus to the reason for the celebration. We may neglect to stop and think about the blessing of living in America, which is something we all take for granted from time to time. Maybe even every day.
We may inadvertently forget to focus on those who have fought and died for our country, and those who are fighting for us today.
We may not even stop to say the pledge of allegiance, silently or corporately, as we get caught up in planning our annual day of fun.
But yesterday at church, as I am sure many churches did across this great nation, we paused to focus.
We sang several patriotic songs, we praised God for our country, despite the flaws that exist within it. We thanked God for our freedom, and lifted our Bibles in the air as we sang the hymn Ancient Words, softening our hearts towards the history of God’s Word, and our nation.
One comment our pastor made yesterday, was how much he treasured the Pledge of Allegiance, in all of its simplicity, and I agree:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
He then went on to talk about another type of allegiance – our allegiance to God. We reviewed the verses in Exodus 20:1-3, where God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, beginning with God’s law to not worship other Gods.
He also said something that resonated in my heart: “The 10 commandments are not out of step with the times, but the times are out of step with the commandments of God.”
Every Christian knows this is true, but feels helpless to do anything about it.
The state of our nation, in many regards, brings tears to my eyes. The fragile economy, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and divorce are just a few of the many struggles that so many Americans face every day.
But I am also saddened as I consider how far we have fallen from being a nation grounded on faith in Jesus Christ, to a nation grounded in tolerance and acceptance of all things, even if they transcend God’s moral law, all the while allowing modern-day pleasures to become idols in our lives.
Unfortunately, those things are true. However, we are still living in the land of the free, where brave men and women fight, and suffer, for our freedom every day, and we have an obligation to pause and focus and be thankful for our great country – while remembering – that we are not helpless, with God on our side.
Knowing He is always with us, and He is sovereighn, should empower us to passionately pledge allegiance to Him, committing to standing strong in our faith, proud of our Savior, thankful for His blessings, humbled by His forgiveness of our sin, and radiant in our love for Him.
The devil would love for us to believe all those lies that we have addressed over the past couple months, and buy into the world’s view of life and of ourselves, so that we will allow our fears and insecurities to take precedence over our allegiance to God.
But although it may seem hard at times, we can stand in allegiance to Him every day, no matter what is going on around us, what we have done, or what we have not done. And since we are sinners, living in an sinful world, there is only one way that we can do that:
Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Saying the pledge of allegiance to our country is easy, in fact, most of us could probably say it in our sleep, without considering the fullness of its’ meaning.
But pledging allegiance to Christ takes a commitment with our whole hearts, not just our words. A commitment to love Him and honor Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, all throughout the year, and not just on a special day of the year set aside to do so.
July 4th – a day to pledge allegiances.
To our country.
And to our God.
Let us be passionate about making both of these allegiances on this special day.
God Bless America. And Happy 4th to everyone!
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