I want to thank my brother, Rob, and sister-in-law, Eileen, for inviting my family and me yesterday to view the Norwood parade celebrating the 4th of July. It was wonderful seeing the old military equipment, the antique cars, the proud veterans, the hometown teams and the exceptional marching bands. I enjoy parades: to gather with friends, family and neighbors and wave flags – it is pure Americana. No matter the weather (and it was hot yesterday!) there is always a crowd assembled simply to recognize the blessings and providence of our great country and to celebrate its 237th birthday.
We’ve come a long way in those years, but we still hold sure and certain truths to be self-evident: that all of us are created equal and that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights (among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness). What was signed on July 4, 1776 still serves as charter for all acknowledging citizenship – we are created equal and we are divinely equipped. We all come into the world the same and we all have the right to live, to enjoy freedom and to chase after happiness. “God bless America, land that I love.”
I love that God had providently allowed me to be born into citizenship of the United States of America, but I have also been born into a second kingdom. I have dual citizenship. I have been born American and born-again Christian. This occasionally creates tension when the laws and liberties of one sovereign nation clashes with the other. For all the blessings that come with being American, and there are so many that I cannot even imagine living anywhere else on earth, my ultimate allegiance lies with the kingdom of God because it offers something the U.S. cannot.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ….” Philippians 3:19
There is no system of government on the earth better than the democracy that America embraces. It provides opportunity for every individual to prosper and protect the rights of its citizenry like no other nation. However, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence have a glaring lack – they provide no assurances for eternity. There is no remedy for sin in the “Bill of Rights” nor is there absolution from transgression in the founding documents. We have established human courts and executed earthly justice, but there is no article which addresses heavenly courts or divine justice. Ultimately, I am safe and secure for eternity because I am a citizen of heaven, currently living as a citizen of the U.S. That shapes the direction I take when the tensions rise: I choose Heaven.
“America! America! God shed His grace on Thee!” Happy 4th of July Weekend! I hope you, too, were able to catch sight of a parade or some fireworks. I also hope that, like me, you wonder how much greater the parades and fireworks will be when we finally see our eternal homeland.