Picnics. Parades. Fireworks. Maybe even a day at the beach. Another Fourth of July complete with fun-filled family times. However, excessive drinking and associated craziness often accompany July 4th celebrations. These are a major issue for parents, law enforcement officials and others concerned about public safety. They also illustrate the fact that not everyone sees this holiday as an occasion for remembering the courage and commitment of the founders of our nation. Additionally, fewer and fewer people see this as a time for reflecting on the rich Christian heritage of our nation. It seems that some view this national holiday like all the others—just another opportunity to party. Perhaps it is time for some reflection and analysis.
In the part of the country where I now reside it is difficult to overlook our heritage. Most days we drive past a number of historical markers which denote significant events in the Revolutionary War of Independence. One example of how close we are to this history is the Battle of Brandywine, which took place on September 11, 1777. British troops under the command of General Howe gathered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which is just barely more than a stone’s throw away from my home in Delaware. Actually, Howe’s overland route from the Chesapeake Bay to Kennett Square likely took him very, very close to my home. General Washington chose defend the strategic high ground near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The location of this battle has been designated as a national historic site, which we often pass during our day-to-day activities.
There are so many similar examples. I live in Delaware, the first state to ratify the United States Constitution. One of the communities nearby, the historic City of New Castle, Delaware, was founded in 1651. I have had many business lunches at Jessop’s Tavern, which dates back to 1724. The nation’s oldest church building still standing as originally built, known as Old Swedes Church, is located in Old New Castle, Delaware. This church was constructed in 1698-1699 and is still used regularly for worship.
On-and-on the list could go. I write about the things while sitting in my home office. From here the City of Philadelphia is just a thirty minute’s drive from my home; Washington, D.C., is less than two hours away; and New York City is just over two hours away by automobile. So much of our nation’s grand history is just around the corner from where I live. It would be next to impossible to miss it. One would have to want to ignore it, in my estimation, in order be untouched by the presence of such poignant and prolific historical surroundings.
Oh, how things have changed since the first immigrants arrived on these eastern shores. One example of this is found in a book on the American Revolution by Robert Wood. He states that “in revolutionary America, the Word of God was in every man’s mouth. Religion was a burning issue in pulpit and politics both.” If it were possible for one of our Founding Fathers to visit us today, it is my opinion that our technological advancements would not impress them nearly as much as would the organized attempts to eradicate religion from our lives. We are living in a day in which even the Supreme Court of our land has been chided for attempting to create a society sanitized of public religious influence.
Before there was an American Revolution, Queen Elizabeth I reigned in England (1558-1603). During this time the people gained access to the Bible in their native language. The influence of God’s Word greatly improved the moral responsibility among the people. In fact, according to one historian, “the whole temper of the nation felt the change.” Long before this, God plainly stated through the Preacher Solomon, that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34, niv). Unfortunately, the Word of God is no longer on every person’s mouth, because it is no longer in our hearts. Perhaps familiarity has bred contempt.
Now is the time for those who have responded to Christ’s kingdom call to live into His vision for our lives. We need to be salting the earth, lighting the world and being the leaven that our world so desperately needs. We should be about the business of promoting justice, mercy and faithfulness (cf. Matthew 23:23). In a world that lives by the maxim, “he who has the gold makes the rules”, we need to show people what it means to live by THE Golden Rule. It is as crucial now as it was when our forefathers set sail from in England in search of an opportunity to freely serve God.
We must issue a clarion call throughout the land for our nation to return to its religious roots before that which we hold so dear becomes a relic of the past, noted and discussed only in the history books. While the United States of America is clearly not the kingdom of Christ, like all other nations in the world, God wants our nation to be influenced by kingdom principles. He wants us to make disciples of the citizens of this nation, like He wants us to make disciple of the citizens of all nations. He wants the people of this nation and all nations of the world to submit their lives to the sovereignty of Christ.
May we not take for granted the freedoms we enjoy. May we not forget to exercise these freedoms for good and for God. May God help us always to be free of the tyrannies of our times so that we might serve the true and living God who transcends time. May God helps us to be Christ’s disciples, living as good citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and making a positive contribution to the lives of others in the little corner of the world in which we reside.
© Bill Williams
July 4, 2006