Quick question amidst the frenzy of freedom-oriented celebration in America on July 4th: does God have anything to do with the 4th of July?
What if I said at least one American President in the past 50 years said God did have a part to play in American independence? Any guesses as to who?
Answer: John F. Kennedy! He is the backdrop for this article in TIME online. (Granted, JFK wasn’t President at the time of the speech mentioned, but it’s a theme he returned to in his run for the top office).
I encourage you to read the article, but if time does not permit, here are some highlights:
Concerning the connection between God and the original 4th of July, Kennedy says,
“Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’”
He links these important concepts: God has a plan, humans are invited to participate via the “integrity of the individual,” and this is the basis for what we call America.
But here’s what gets me thinking: America was founded 238 years ago with a direct connection to The Creator. That same connection is mentioned by others up through President Kennedy. But how many of our nation’s leaders still make that connection?
Whether our leaders believe in God or not, few will bring up the “G-word.” Perhaps it’s a fear of losing votes due to the vocal “separation of church and state” crowd, or perhaps it’s a feeling that it’s best not to rock the boat (i.e., the USS Political Correctness).
But as I reflect on how “unmentionable” God has become in the last 50 years in the public venue, I shudder to think what could happen in the next 50 years. The rate of “not mentioning” is not a gradual decline, but an exponential one! Will God be forgotten altogether? And if that happens, what will the “integrity of the individual” be based on? The best that the human mind can conceive?
I’m not advocating something new here… I’m advocating something old. A return to the desire to live into God’s plan… a return to being able to mention God and what we believe as Jesus followers without fear of repercussions or rocking the boat.
In fact, what I’m advocating is beyond old… it’s ancient. It’s God’s original plan for the human race. A place of integrity in individuals, equality of human beings, and where God’s Truth is once again recognized as “self-evident.” And I’m not the first to bemoan how a culture can so easily push aside The Creator of the Universe:
“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14 ESV)
My prayer on this 4th of July is that we would be free… to speak God’s name and our beliefs, and that those who lead us would be free to do the same. Perhaps you could take some time to utter a prayer for their freedom, and ours.
Let the healing begin….