As we prepare to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the birth of the United States of America, we are given cause to reflect on what makes America the greatest nation on earth. Despite America’s imperfections and moral decline, America is still a nation where its citizens are governed by elected representatives—not a monarch, not a dictator, not a despot. American citizens have a voice in government and the ability to hold those in office accountable, so long as the desire to do so is present. Christians in America have the freedom to carry Bibles in public, to gather in public places of worship, to peaceably assemble in public protest, to publically share their faith, to practice their beliefs in the privacy of their homes, and to instill those beliefs into their own children without fear of government reprisal.
To be fair, some have argued those freedoms are quickly disappearing. True as that may be, the United States is still the freest nation on earth. For that we can be thankful this July 4th, recognizing that God has “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26 ESV). It is God who sovereignly foreordained for us to live in the United States as opposed to any other place on earth. And “every good gift and every perfect gift is from” God above (James 1:17 ESV).
Nevertheless, for too many Christianity and Americanism are nearly synonymous. America is God’s city on a hill. The United States is the New Israel, and Washington, DC is the New Jerusalem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus exhorted his disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19 ESV). And Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20 ESV). Those who have placed faith in Christ as their savior and have pledged loyalty to his Lordship, do not belong here. We do not belong on this planet and we certainly do not belong in the United States of America. We are simply passing through. We are pilgrims on a journey to the Celestial City. We are soldiers advancing God’s kingdom in a foreign land. We are on foreign temporary duty assignment. No soldier serving in Afghanistan would think to begin pouring a concrete slab in the hopes of someday building a three-bedroom home on it. Rather he would be content with living in a tent or in temporary quarters made of plywood and tin roofs. Why? He understands that is not his home. He is simply there to complete a mission. When the mission is complete he will return to his real home. This world and the United States are not our home. Believers are here to complete a mission. When that mission is complete the Lord will take us to our real home beyond the skies.
What is the mission of every believer? “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mat 28:19-20 ESV). These are the orders we have been given by our heavenly Commander in Chief. Our response to Christ should be that of our beloved U.S. Marines--Semper Fi! (always faithful). Let us seek to live today like no one else, so that we might live tomorrow like no one else.