One year ago at this time, no one would have ever expected this Fourth of July to have been so disrupted. Not in my wildest dreams would I, six months ago––heck two months ago when we were still in lockdown––expect our Fourth of July celebrations to be cancelled. And our nation to be in such turmoil.
Somewhere around 25 years ago, the movie Independence Day with Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman was released. The summer blockbuster was about an alien invasion, and the people of the earth coming together during The Fourth of July to fight for their freedom. I’m wondering if I might rather have that happen than what is actually happening right now.
Of course I’m being (a little) facetious. But at least in the movie, it was simple to tell who the good guys were and who the bad ones were. And in the movie, we all united under the banner of freedom for the entire globe. But under the circumstances we are now in, we, as a nation, are as divided as we were 160 years ago. Maybe even more so. And the common elements of ‘truth, justice and the American way’ that we once so simply united under have seemingly disappeared overnight. No longer do we, as a nation, have truth, justice, nor the ‘American way’ any longer. It seems such things are even offensive. Could you even imagine Hollywood making a Superman or Lone Ranger movie with that quote in it nowadays?
And how sad it is to see this develop over our most patriotic holidays––Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day. All of which have been cancelled. How sad is it that this division has happened not 20 years since Sept. 11, 2001––or should I say, Sept. 12, 2001? Remember when we thought that special sense of patriotism would never go away? Remember when we swore we’d never forget? Remember when we were truly united, and we swore we would never let that go?
I would digress if I were to try to go into the myriad of reasons why I think this is happening. And no one can agree on that, either, which is perhaps the scariest thing. You ask a conservative, they’ll tell you it’s because one thing; you ask a liberal, they’ll tell you it’s because of another (usually, they’ll say it’s each other).
I hate to say it, but perhaps Sun Tzu’s piece of military strategy can come into play here: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
You’re probably offended that I quoted something with the term ‘enemy’ in it. Well, am I wrong? There are definite sides, and one side is seeing the other as an enemy. The question is, whose side are you on? Are you on the side of looters and rioters who are destroying neighborhoods and scaring innocent people, or are you on the side of those who want peace and order and are trying to protect themselves, their businesses and preserve American freedom? Are you on the side of those who are violently calling for the destruction of the symbols of all of the good and great things the United States has stood for––our flag, our freedom, our national monuments and our statues, even the statues of our founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; as well as ‘The Great Emancipator’ Abraham Lincoln and President Ulysses S. Grant?
I’m not saying these men were perfect, no human being has ever been perfect except Jesus, and that’s because he was God in the flesh, born without a sinful nature. But if we destroy the memory and symbols of the great things great men have accomplished and the great and honorable Christian principles they have established as the bedrock of this nation, then we’ve set the stage to start over with something else. And what will that ‘something else’ be? Anti-Christian principles?
It’s very likely. Especially when we’ve also seen recently that even some religious symbols are being called into question. And we’ve known for a long time that some regard Christianity as an enemy of The People.
So that leads me to asking, what is The Church to do? First and foremost, our hope is in The Lord. And our home is with him, not here where sin and chaos rule. Thankfully, as the old hymn states, “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” And I’m reminded of a quote Billy Graham said many years ago similar to that: “God is still on the throne…I don’t put my trust in Washington. I don’t put my trust in the United Nations…I don’t put trust in my money. I put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s face it, I’m surprised they haven’t torn down his statue, yet. But let’s not give them any ideas.
In previous posts, I said that we must shine the light in a darkened world. And I still hold to that. But at some point, we might need to go beyond that if The Church is put in a position to take a stand as the lines are drawn in the sand. The problem is, we may just see a divided Church, too––where some will stand for righteousness while others will blatantly side (either out of persuasion or out of fear) with the angry mob. We’re already seeing elected officials who are letting the inmates run the asylum. Their cities are burning and city officials are siding with the very ones burning their cities down. This is not too much unlike Nero. Are we heading down the path of Rome?
God help us.
I’m reminded of a quote by Deitrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who was blatantly outspoken against Hitler’s regime, and who was martyred for it. He said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
May this Independence Day Weekend cause us to pause and reflect on the sacredness and fragility of our freedoms, and the real possibility that everything our forefathers fought, and some died for––everything that we have enjoyed and unfortunately taken for granted––may soon be gone. I’ll leave you with this, what then-Governor Ronald Reagan said during his inaugural address in 1967:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”