This isn’t really about how to mix Christianity with patriotism. There are plenty of people already doing that. But if you’re a follower, either online or in real life, you know that’s one of those things that makes me a little nervous. I’ve been an American since birth and a Christian since age 12, but one is not synonymous with the other. I get a little weird when Christians quote those Old Testament land promises God gave the Jews and act like those are about us. A literal kingdom with borders and a king on the throne – that’s what God was doing then. The kingdom he is building now is bigger than any one nation or one people. We don’t live in a “Christian nation” either, and on that point I run the risk of starting a war of rhetoric. We live in a free nation in which many people choose to practice Christianity without fear; but many choose not to as well. The melting pot of many cultures, languages, races and religions is an essential part of our national identity. We are not a Christian nation for instance the way Iran or Afghanistan are Muslim nations. These are sermons I’ve preached before and I don’t want to get too distract before saying
Here’s the message I want to share with Christians this Independence Day, and every day: for whatever you have, be thankful. We may be in a slow-recovery phase of a recession, but we as a nation are very richly blessed. If you ate 3 meals today, be thankful. About half the world’s population did not. If you have a car, any kind of car, that puts you in the top richest 8% of people on earth. We have so many material blessings we take them for granted. We typically spend more for one meal than most people live on for a week. Think for just a moment about your electric lights, air conditioning, telephone service, internet access as well as police and fire protection, and thank God we live in a place and time that so many are blessed. At the same time, don’t forget that much of the world is not as well blessed.
I know that politicians philander, the media exaggerates and that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Welcome to life. The first followers of Jesus lived under Roman occupation and had heavy tribute (taxes) demanded of them. IRS agents don’t hold a candle to first century publicans. When asked if paying taxes to Caesar was lawful, Jesus looked at a Roman coin and said “Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” It was under that same repressive regime that the Christian church started in Acts chapter 2. The Apostle Paul referred to himself as an ambassador in chains, yet said that in every situation he thought himself happy. He also pointed out that if he “had hope in this life only [he] would be above all men most miserable.” Compared to those guys, we have it pretty easy.
Whatever you have, be thankful for it. James reminds us that “every good and perfect gift” is from above. God gives the sun and rain that grow our crops. Wisdom and understanding come from him as well. If you’ve built a fortune with your own hands, remember where your health and strength comes from to begin with. America remains the land of opportunity. We may have our problems, but I’m not ready to trade this land in for any other place. God establishes nations and thrones. We need to use what we have blessed with to bless others.