Only as Great as Us
Sunday is Independence Day. In addition to picnics, cookouts and a long weekend, we celebrate the strength and resilience of our nation through more than two centuries.
It’s an interesting contrast then when we read in the lesson from 2 Corinthians that Paul proclaims, “on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses” (2 Cor. 12:5b, click here to read the full passage). So, while we as a nation celebrate (“boast”) our strength, Paul reminds us to boast of our weakness. It seems counter-intuitive to the American way of thinking, but Paul means it, and I think he means it for us as individuals as well as the nation.
Paul’s purpose is not to be proud of incompetence but rather to remind us that whatever strength we have comes from God. We are dependent on Him and even any strength we have comes from Him. The lives and brains and grit that built this nation come from God for He made us and holds us in existence.
What does that mean for us as Americans? Are we patriotic and proud? Yes. In spite of its flaws, sometimes painfully obvious, we have so much to be thankful for: freedom, opportunity, service. But it also means that we cannot depend on American strength to solve our problems. We must, as Christian Americans, depend on God and remember that the real solution to the problems that vex us come from God.
Consider the state of race relations in our nation. I trust none of you are foolish enough to think that this will be fixed by laws or courts or retraining some police officers. Those things may be needed, but race relations will only be solved when we invite God to change our hearts.
If we want our country to be great, to live up to its promise, then we must begin with ourselves. That does not mean that we must join the armed forces or run for political office, though some are called to do those things. It means that in humility before God, we seek to be the best Christians and citizens we can be for a nation will, ultimately, only be as strong as the character of its people.
This column appeared in the July 4, 2021 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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