Let us pray: Dear Savior, in Your wisdom You have put us in America and given this great country to us. You have made America a beacon which shines the light of freedom around the world for all to see and for all to emulate. Today we ask You to empower each of us to not only be citizens by obeying the laws of our land, but to be ambassadors of what makes our country great—Your goodness and mercy and truth. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO HOLDS ALL GOVERNMENTS IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND!
TEXT: Proverbs 14: 34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
My father was a wise and fearless man. He believed that the voice of the “little people” truly could make a difference. One of his favorite phrases was: “The truth will always win out.” And so, he wasn’t afraid to stand up for the truth. He demonstrated his resolve time and again too in writing his congressman to express his opinion on issues of the day. Unlike most people who are shy, timid, don’t care, or don’t think anyone will listen, my father lived that credo: “One man armed with the truth can stand up against anything.” And so, in the age of snail mail, he typed up numerous letters to Senators Humphrey and Mondale along with our congressman John Zwach. On more than one occasion he met Senator Humphrey and Congressman Zwach and when introduced, they immediately knew who he was! Yes, his “little” voice was heard! One man can make a difference!
Anyone here who has lived more than 20 years in America knows that our country has changed during their lifetime. And often, that change has not been for the better. We long for days gone by when streets were safe, children could play outside without fear, when people (and the government) paid its bills on time, and America truly was a “melting pot” instead of a land of private fiefdoms. In our impersonal age, we’ve come to lament the fact that we’re just numbers without voices. We lament the fact that “little people” are pandered to at election time and then forgotten as the ruling class panders to vested interests. We don’t like being used. And yet we feel so very powerless to change the situation.
Today, we stand on the verge of America’s Independence Day. And instead of feeling the conflicting emotions of powerlessness coupled with stirring pride over the past, we all need to take Solomon’s words in our text seriously. For they address the question on so many of our minds. That question being:
HOW CAN I MAKE AMERICA GREAT?
Christ is the eternal Son of God. He was and is Lord over all things—including human governments. When St. Paul writes: “The powers that be are ordained of God” Paul was saying that Christ has established all governments and allows them to exist. His purpose behind this is twofold. One, to bless His holy Church and people via good government and thereby enable us to appreciate our blessings; and two, to chastise wayward sinners through bad governments thereby leading those people to repentance.
We can all think of bad governments and shudder at the heartbreak and sadness they have brought to their citizens. And we desperately want to avoid that from happening to us. Meanwhile, we Americans are blest with what is generally termed a “good government.” That is, a country where religious freedoms are upheld along with the natural law rights of: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Although America has warts, these freedoms still remain more or less intact. And today we should thank our gracious God for that!
And yet, yet, America is not the same as it once was. It has changed, and in many cases, not for the better. Special interest groups abound, fracturing our social compact. Greed has always been part of any society, but it seems to be worse today, or at least, more visible in our materialistic culture. The “culture wars” which promote immoral behavior are more and more pronounced. Civility, respect for persons and their property, good manners, and a sense of personal responsibility have all seemingly gone by the boards. And so, Americans, especially Christian Americans, often throw up their hands in frustration thinking they are powerless, and retreat into living for heaven. Now, that is o.k. to do on a certain level, but it is often a cop-out, as well, which fails to honor God for putting you here and giving you the responsibilities of citizenship. So, the question comes: How Can I Make America Great?
King Solomon gives us the answer under the Spirit’s inspiration: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Let’s take that verse apart. Righteousness means “rightness.” It means that God has established certain standards for behavior in this world. It means there truly is a right and a wrong. Those standards are encapsulated in the 10 commandments. They also include the fact that all people are important to God since He died for all their souls on a cross. Therefore, we should treat everyone with respect. Good manners and kindness never goes out of style. It is God’s way of keeping order on this earth. Such respectful behavior “exalts” or raises up a whole nation. Yes, making a real difference begins at home, with each of you. The “little people” make America great.
The opposite of such exaltation is disgrace. Solomon addresses that, too, when he says: “But sin is a disgrace to any people.” That phrase presupposes the reality of sin which presupposes moral absolutes, or Godly truth. Contrary to the counterculture’s redefinition of our founding fathers, most of them actually were Christians and the others respected Christian principles. For only the fool would be against the Christian principles of: private property, the sanctity of human life, and the necessity of traditional marriage to preserve a nation’s future. Christianity teaches all these things and even more! For Christianity teaches personal responsibility. We don’t blame “society” for our personal problems. We blame ourselves. We call that repentance. And then armed with the power of God’s grace, knowing that He has forgiven us and made us special, we don’t sit back and do nothing to improve the situation, we act! We “let our light shine.” We actually work toward fixing the problem! For to otherwise is a disgrace. It brings dishonor to ourselves, our country, and our God.
As Christians we have a much higher calling than mere citizens of America. We are redeemed, forgiven, and made holy through Christ’s blood. Thereby we are also made into Godly salt, which helps preserve the lives of all we touch. Just as God’s Church is enlarged one person at a time, so America is made great by individuals acting on their Christian convictions one person at a time. So make your voice heard! After all, you and I possess the Truth, and it is a Truth that not only honors our country, but also that sets people forever free! Amen