The history of The United States of America is complicated because people are complicated.
This nation was birthed on an idea…and more than an idea…truths: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Yet, the people proclaiming these truths, setting them into writing, and forming a nation founded on them, were sinners who failed to perfectly live up to these truths. They were people no different than you and I. We, too, are sinners who fail to live up to the truths set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
There is a Creator. You and I didn’t just come into existence. We were created, and being created implies forethought, design, and purpose.
All men aren’t just created by God; we are all created equal by God.
In what way are all men created equal? Not in appearance, not in intellect, not in abilities and talents, and not in experience.
No, the equality of all people is based on the truth that all human beings are created in the image of God, the Imago Dei. It is this truth that anchors the right to life of every human being. (Genesis 1:26)
And it is this truth that creates the right to liberty. Does liberty mean the freedom to do whatever we please? On the contrary, true liberty means the freedom to live according to the design and purpose of the One who created us in His image.
Although our Creator may have a different plan for each of us and indeed has determined our times and places in history, created us as unique individuals, wonderfully made, and granted to us certain blessings and various trials so that we would each seek Him, He has made all of us with one overarching purpose…to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Acts 17:26-27; Psalm 139; James 1; Mark 12:29-31)
This is the true pursuit of happiness…to pursuit our Creator’s individual plan for our lives according to His design and under His overarching purpose for all of humanity.
The Founding Fathers who penned those powerful words captured in a paragraph of the Declaration of Independence understood these truths and acknowledged them even as they failed to live up to them. But, this failure isn’t theirs alone. We, too, have failed to live up to these truths. We, too, have sinned against God and each other. And not just as Americans. All people everywhere, at every point in history, and of every nation, tribe, and tongue, have failed to live up to these truths. (Romans 3:23)
The history of the world is in essence the story of all the ways human beings have failed and fallen short and all the ways God has continued to prove Himself faithful despite our failings. Even the best stories of human success and achievement and selflessness and sacrifice are not without this failure to perfectly love God and neighbor. Every human hero, not just every human villain, has fallen short in perfectly living up to God’s plan, design, and purpose. Every single one.
Currently, monuments to the American story are being torn down in the name of justice, some rightly and some wrongly, but, regardless, it reminds me that true justice would demand each of us be torn down, destroyed, canceled, wiped off the face of the earth, and punished forever in hell for our sins against God and each other.
But, instead of tearing down human beings, God raised up a cross where His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, would die in sinful man’s place so that all who place their faith in Him would be made right with God, forgiven, new creations with new hearts, truly free to receive God’s love and to love God and neighbor sincerely. (John 3:16; Philippians 2:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
We don’t need a new answer for the problems and sins we are dealing with today in this nation, around the world, and living in our own hearts, we need to place our faith in the only answer, Jesus Christ, and we need to faithfully live for Him.
On this fourth of July, I am thankful this nation was born and for the truths from which she was born, and I appreciate all those who sacrificed so that these truths might be more fully realized, but my hope isn’t in a perfect United States. That hope will fail. My hope is in a perfect Savior who is calling and perfecting His people and creating a new Kingdom from all the kingdoms of the world. It is because of this ultimate hope that I have not lost immediate hope though the times may be hard and dark.
Kathrine Lee Bates penned the words of “America the Beautiful.” These lines stand out…
…God shed His grace on thee…
…mend thy every flaw…
…till all success be nobleness
and every gain divine
Let us acknowledge that this work written of can only take place in human hearts and only through faith in Christ. May God shed His grace on us, may He mend our every flaw, and may our successes be noble and our gains divine. To have a more perfect union, we must have a more perfect people…or a people made perfect in Christ and united together in Him.
In this Spirit and in this hope…Happy birthday, United States of America.