It’s the Fourth of July which means barbecues and fireworks, picnics and watermelon slices. Along with these hallmarks of Independent Day celebrations, there will be proclamations of “God Bless America” and prayers of thankfulness for the freedoms this country provides. And there should be. Asking God to bless our country, to provide guidance and wisdom to our leaders and to lead us in a direction that would honor and please Him is a good thing to do (although we should make sure that our prayer of blessing is stated as a petition and not a demand.) Being grateful for the freedoms that our country affords us is appropriate, especially as we remember so many who do not enjoy the same. As Brett McCraken and C.S. Lewis remind us, patriotism, an affection for the place we call home while on Earth, is a foretaste of the longing we should have for our Heavenly one. It is therefore a “proximate good” as noted by Kevin DeYoung, a reflection of the greater good that is to come.
However, as we celebrate our country and ask for God to bless it, let us not forget to also petition that our country would enact laws, engage in political discussions, and elect officials that would honor Christ. Let us remember that America exists for God to do with as He wishes, not the other way around. If the nation should cease, if the freedoms that our country provides were to be taken away, He would still be worthy of our blessing and praise. We can ask God to bless our country and it is good to do so, but even more so, we should ask that our country would honor God, since our ultimate allegiance is to Him.
It is good to remember all that have fought for the freedoms we enjoy and to be grateful for all the opportunities those freedom afford. But let us be most grateful to the One who directs the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1), and let our praise of Him be louder still.