Americans celebrated our “endowed by our Creator” personal freedom and national independence this weekend with the Fourth of July.
Our American life is so abundant, so filled up, so replete with opportunity, so tolerant, so limitless in its horizon, and so rich in its history and accomplishment. As nations of the world go – you can gripe about America if you want to, but take a quick, prayerful look at the Middle East, equatorial Africa and large swaths of Asia – we have been especially, wonderfully, divinely endowed with a way of life where, from the standpoint of human aspiration, there’s not much missing.
America’s founding uniquely expressed the towering yet conflicting images of man as presented not only by the Bible and Jesus Christ, but also by the Enlightenment and its human-focused, God-as-an-adjunct, unblinking secular vagaries and man-made morality.
The Bible and Jesus Christ teach us of an Almighty Creator God in whom and from whom all love, truth, good and righteousness both reside and emanate. They teach us that in all things God, and God alone, must be first. We are made in His image, for His glory and He has set us on a path on this earth in freedom to find Him even as He pursues us. Humanity’s ultimate joy is to be found not in our own happiness and comfort – not in “finding ourselves” – but in discerning and modeling God’s will and purpose for our own lives and all Creation. For that, we look to Jesus.
America’s founding documents assume the reality and reflect the primacy of God as the one true, objective “good.” Within that “good” resides our inspiration as people to strive toward God and learn everything we can about His Creation, His goodness and His love. The Bible instructs us to begin with our own selfless acts of loving God as One, and loving other humans as we love ourselves.
Which is to say: God’s love is perfect but mankind’s needs work. To that end – perfecting our love, to the earthly extent that is possible – we educate ourselves and in turn educate, raise and love our children to help them seek the will and purpose of God Who created us and all things. If that seems like circular reasoning, it is. To paraphrase the song, may that circle be unbroken.
America wasn’t founded as a church. The Enlightenment philosophical era concurrent with America’s founding emphasized human aspiration and personal liberty over and above God’s will and divine purpose.
That created the not-infrequent problem of having morality backwards, but on the upside yielded a relentless American opportunity for Christian witness.
Let’s also be sure to celebrate that.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) reminds all that shadows require light.