A couple of scriptures come to mind on this most patriotic weekend of the year. Romans 13:1-6:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
and I Timothy 2:1-4:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
When it comes to Biblical imperatives there are few that I find it harder to be consistent about than these. My desire to submit to and pray for the government pivots with the news like a center in the paint with the ball. I have to work extra hard to remember the second sentence in that Romans quotation, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
That’s really hard to believe sometimes, but there it is from the pen of the Apostle Paul. No matter how much I disagree, no matter how boorish I find some politicians behavior, God is in charge and things are working out as He thinks they should. There are times when that thought seems to create only cognitive dissonance, but in all honesty it has to be true simply because of who and what I believe God to be.
This Independence Day holiday is a particularly confused one for me – on the one hand…and then on the other hand. But that is because I am focused on the wrong stuff. That’s because I am looking at City Hall, or Sacramento or D.C. when I should be looking at the Throne of Grace. Despite our differences and difficulties, citizens of the United States enjoy greater health, prosperity, and religiosity than any other country at any other time in history. That is extraordinary, and certainly a gift from the Almighty.
I know not what the future holds in store for our nation. I do know that nations, even empires, have come and gone yet the church endures. I know that my hope lies in the eternal. I know that right now, this moment, I and my nation are in God’s hands.
That’s enough for a celebration.