God Is Greater Than Any Nation

[]We don't do Independence Sunday every year, but this year I felt it was important because we have much to celebrate as a nation. Many new things are happening, many barriers have been broken, and truly the spirit of independence is flowing free. We've had 233 years together as a nation built upon the backs of women and men who struggled and labored so that they could build this nation into what it is today, and all of us have come to enjoy the fruits of their labors. We also thank all of those who have served in the defense of this country, those who brought us independence to begin with, and those who serve to keep us independent and free. And to those people who have given their lives for that sake we owe a great debt of gratitude and thanks to God for their willingness to sacrifice their lives for our freedom.

So we have much to be thankful for, and God has truly blessed us. 233 years of 'the American experiment' as other nations called us over two hundred years ago, thinking that the type of freedom and liberty that we espoused would never last. But the naysayers have been proved wrong, and those who are still hoping for us to fail may have a long wait. But as we read in Scripture (and just heard in the special musical offering of 'My Country 'Tis Of Thee), God, the author of liberty, wants us to be free, to not be oppressed, to enjoy life under our own fig trees, and to not be in fear of any nation or anyone. And so we are very blessed.

So on this Independence Sunday we give thanks to God, but I do offer a word of caution. There are some who claim that we are God's chosen nation. I stand in opposition to that because everything I read in Scripture, and in holy books of others who turn in faith to God, says that all of us can claim to be God's children, but none of us can claim to be God's chosen nation. If that right belongs to anyone, it is to the people of Israel…and I'm talking about Judaism for they are God's chosen people. But holy books from different religions all espouse that God created many peoples and many nations and that all will one day come before God who will arbitrate between the nations. One of our readings today was from the book of Micah, and that passage speaks as much to us as Judeo-Christians as to the Hebrews of that time. And in the holy book of Islam, the Koran, it says that God created many tribes and many nations, that the peoples may know one another and live in uprightness before God.

So God is God of many nations and many peoples, and all who turn in worship and praise of God are truly children of God, even if they call God by a different name. So it's something for us to remember as we celebrate our independence that yes, God has blessed our nation very much indeed and we have many things to be grateful for, and certainly more things to be grateful for in our future years. But no one nation can claim God as solely the God of their nation as though we possess or have ownership of God. It is God who has ownership over all the world, the nations, and all of its peoples. It is wonderful to sing our songs of celebration, and it is wonderful to hear these songs. We will sing another hymn in a few moments called, 'God of Many Nations,' that recognizes that God is sovereign over the entirety of the world, over all peoples and places, that God is the creator and the author of life.

On this Independence Sunday, I wanted to remind us of the graciousness and the glory of God that is open to all people in all places. And so as we continue through the weekend, do celebrate. This is a great milestone for our country, 233 years together in the experiment that supposedly would not last. We have truly been blessed. And I can't wait for our 250th anniversary as a nation. That will be a great time of excitement for all of us, and I'm sure will be a wonderful time of celebration in all our churches in thankfulness to God for all we have been given.

So celebrate. Continue to spend time with your families and friends. Give God thanks for our country, and offer prayers for our nation and for the nations of the world, that we might live in the ways that God calls us to live.

July 5, 2009

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