Independence Day marks Christian Citizenship Sunday
June 22, 2004
This year, July 4 is not only America ’s Independence Day, but because it falls on a Sunday, it is Southern Baptists’ Christian Citizenship Sunday. It’s a day in which we rejoice as Americans and reflect on our great Christian heritage. The Christian Life Commission of the Missouri Baptist Convention encourages all churches to set aside some time on July 4 to offer our thanks to God for His great blessings upon us.
When God told Joshua the game plan for the conquest of Jericho , I wonder if his heart sank? “You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days” (Jos. 6:3). Military men are trained for war, not parades. And children of God are prone to expect Him to act suddenly, not slowly. But God often stretches our faith, testing us to see if we will obey, even when it doesn’t make sense. Well, obey they did and on the seventh day as the old Negro spiritual says “…and the walls came a-tumblin’ down!” The spiritual truth is that victory does not always come immediately.
Our Founders learned that lesson. They believed their cause was a righteous cause which honored God and so He, in turn, would honor them. Because of their belief in Him, they pledged “their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor” and they toiled, and fought, and bled and died for the cause of liberty — one of the best and most precious gifts from God.
Most Americans remember Patrick Henry as a fiery Virginia orator with tenacious grit. His line “give me liberty or give me death” is well known and loved by Americans. It’s that in-your-face spirit we have come to love. The entire speech in which he said those words (which was his concluding sentence) is not so well known. But in it he makes clear that he is ready for war because he believed God would honor the colonists. “Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us [2 Chr. 32:8]. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone [Eccl. 9:11]; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”
If we are to make any headway in the cultural war over the future of America , we must return to the patient spirit of Joshua and to the security of Patrick Henry. Victories do not come overnight, but if we are committed and tenacious and focused and on a God-honoring mission, we will prevail.
In Missouri , we will fight hard in coming months against the expansion of gambling and in favor of a marriage amendment to both the state and federal constitutions. Anyone wanting more information, please go to the Christian Life Commission’s website at www.moclc.org. We offer links to help you find your legislators and helpful articles. Eleven other Missouri Baptists serve with me to help remind Missouri Baptists of our work as “salt and light.”
In his great work, History of the United States, Noah Webster, America ’s famous educator and lexicographer reminded people of faith that, “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty.” Webster went on to say, “If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” We have many great men and women of faith serving as our leaders in both Washington , D.C. and Jefferson City . Let us be thankful for them and pray for their continued diligence.
We clearly are making headway in America . We’ve lost so much ground over the past 35 years that the victories seem miniscule. But as Christians learn the lesson of Jericho and keep marching, we win! The fact is there are too few Christians fighting these battles. And many who do pause to fight give up easily. Jericho ’s walls would never have fallen with such half-hearted, pansy-like commitment so characteristic of too many Christians today.
So, my friend, get in the trenches. There are dozens and dozens of issues facing our beloved America . If we do not follow God’s course, we will be a cursed nation. The Bible declares, “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). So get informed. Get involved — and march until the walls come down!