July 4th, Independence Day, will arrive this week. For most of us, Independence Day is a holiday where we stay home from work to enjoy activities with our family, watch a fireworks display and listen to some patriotic music. Perhaps we’ll fire up the grill, enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs, and maybe go to the beach. Whatever we do, our nation recognizes the day as a national holiday and at some point we think about our nation’s history and the blessings we enjoy simply by virtue of living here and being American. I think it safe to say that nowhere else in the world do people enjoy more opportunities for success and freedom than we do here in the United States. Happy July 4th!
I was thinking about those liberties and I thought about the Pledge of Allegiance. I grew up reciting the pledge. I led the pledge at Boy Scout meetings, when I was the President of the local Rotary Club, and today I participate in reciting it at quite a few of the meetings I attend. I did a bit of research on the Pledge and what I found about its history and how it has evolved is fascinating. It was easy research and I encourage you to spend some time yourself on the computer reading the same material I read.
Of particular interest to me was the “under God” addition that has been added to the Pledge. It is really something I have always taken for granted, but it was not an original part of the Pledge.
You’ll enjoy that part of the story and it’ll open your eyes to a bit of our American history.
Of course, for those of us who are Christian and religious, the addition of “under God” seems a natural phrase to add and we have no trouble reciting it. Apparently, that has not been the case for everyone and there have been quite a few lawsuits over the years. But let’s leave the Pledge alone and turn to what it might mean for us to live our lives “under God.” Wouldn’t that make a huge difference in the way we live? Wouldn’t it make a tremendous difference in who we are and what we do? “Under God” would imply that we, and everything we do, would be done based on the set of standards and beliefs we have received from the scriptures, the teachings of the church fathers, the revelations of God’s Holy Spirit, and the living Word of God we experience. If we were living our lives “under God”, it would make a difference in the decisions we made every day and it would guide us in the way we interact with others. Ultimately, it would focus, or re-focus, the way we give our attention and time to God as we enjoy the blessings of each and every day.
Several really good questions to consider are these: what would our lives look like if we lived them “under God”? … and what would our nation look like if it took seriously this pledge of allegiance to a lifestyle and practiced it. I can’t help but believe that it would look different from what I am seeing on the television and reading in the newspaper. Perhaps there would be more justice and compassion displayed, and a bit less violence aimed at those who disagree. Perhaps we might be able to see good even in the faces of those who do not look like us. Just possibly, we could learn to love our neighbor as ourselves and love the Lord our God with all our heart.
To live life “under God” would certainly be a change from those who are proclaiming how much better off our nation would be if we lived life “without God.” I don’t believe it and on Tuesday, July 4th, I will be praying for God to be present with us and direct our days and our ways. I encourage you to join me that day, and every day, pausing for a moment or a second to thank God for His love and presence as we invite Him to come and come quickly.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Butler +