In celebration of Independence Day, and a renewed, steadfast faith in God, it feels appropriate to take an extended look at the words of George Washington in his 1796 Farewell Address:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest prop of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge in the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?
For much of our history, national morality, religious principle and patriotic devotion have seemed to work together. It’s why we’ve so often put the words “God and country” together.
Perhaps like no other time in our nation’s history, the relationship between God and country is strained. The disconnect is about more than any single moral or policy issue, centering on a general reluctance to trust God for our lives, our futures and our good.
I am a citizen of the United States, but I am also a citizen of another Kingdom. Paul says:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)
We know that being a citizen of God’s kingdom means that we are in the world, but not of the world. So what can we do to serve both God and country? I’m committing to do 3 things:
- Love Christ more than the world. I’m seeking to value what the Bible says over worldly definitions. Even when the the chorus says otherwise, stand firm in your faith and put Christ first.
- Love others more than myself. I’m learning to put the needs of others (especially the need they have for Christ) above my own selfish desires. This absolutely includes loving people I don’t agree with. Loving Christ means loving others.
- Love the Kingdom of God more than material things. Instead of seeking material comforts and embracing a culture of more, I want to value the truly important things. I want to share my faith and follow Jesus’ command to make disciples.
So what’s the Big Idea?
Being a citizen of God’s kingdom means that we are in the world, but not of the world. Love Christ more than the world, love others more than yourself, and love the Kingdom of God more than material things.
- Radical by David Platt
- The Great Evangelical Recession by John S. Dickerson
- “The American Church Faces Its Kodak Moment” on Serve. Grow. Lead.
- “Live an Everyday Life on Mission” on Serve. Grow. Lead.
George Washington’s Farewell Address, September 17, 1796.