180704Odds and Ends

Should I celebrate the 4th of July?

Today is the 4th of July, a significant holiday in the United States, but I don’t feel like celebrating. I haven’t forgotten the freedom that allows me to publish these words or worship my God without persecution. I’m thankful to God for these liberties. It’s just that I struggle to celebrate the independence of a nation which abuses its freedoms by so openly celebrating sin.

In America, we continue to slaughter over half a million helpless babies each year under the guise of reproductive rights. Women have the right to abstain from sexual activity, not murder the consequences of their actions.

In America, we parade pride and homosexuality through the streets under rainbow banners. As men and women violate the laws of nature itself, they mock and defy God by choosing for their cause a symbol which represents God’s merciful promise to never again … destroy all flesh for their wickedness (Ge 9:15).

In America, we encourage people to embrace their sick delusions rather than offer the help they need. If a man, for instance, thinks he’s really a woman, we don’t show concern for his mental health. We call him courageous and put him on the cover of magazines.

In America, we believe the lifelong pursuit of greater wealth, luxury possessions, and earthly comforts is noble. We laud it as the American dream and put our children on its path as early as possible. Never mind God’s countless warnings to those who are rich and have prospered (Rev 3:17).

Shall I continue?

No, I don’t feel like celebrating. A part of me wants to stand on the roof and shout:

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. … Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-8; 10)

The larger part of me wants to pray for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1Ti 2:1-2).

Then again, maybe it’s too late for the country as a whole. Perhaps God has already given them up to dishonorable passions and a debased mind in judgment against them (Ro 1:26; 28).

Look around us. The nation is filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. … envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. … gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents (Ro 1:29-30). America’s women have exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise have given up natural relations with women and are consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men (Ro 1:26-27).

I’ll warn and pray anyhow, though my primary concern is the church scattered throughout this place. After all, judgment begins at the household of God (1Pe 4:17).

Our rampant nominal Christianity will prove spiritually fatal if God allows the nation to turn its guns against us. The one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy may have no root in himself, so when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away (Mt 13:20-21). Our tepid faith will cause Christ to spit us out of his mouth (Rev 3:16).

My prayer for the church echos much of Christ’s prayer:

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:6-18)

Though I have nothing against fireworks, I’m not sure I want to spend the evening standing shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors, staring into the sky, wondering whether they see what I see. I’m too distracted to look at the man-made wonders flashing above me. Instead, I’m thinking about the Creator of the stars and this vast universe in which we live. I’m thinking about the souls of the people around me. Do they know God as well?

I don’t feel like celebrating because I don’t know whether the nation in its current state is worth celebrating. I think I’d rather spend the evening in prayer.