We live in a noisy culture. Silence is associated with boredom. Dead air is a lethal enemy to a market thirsty for our attention. The ears of our young people are filled with a revolving feast of Ipods, ring tones, and thirty second commercials. What does all this have to do with the celebration of our nation’s independence?
This week many of us will enjoy the child-like thrill of watching colors splash across the sky to the accompaniment of powerful booms and dazzling sparkles. We will eat way too many hot dogs and drink way too much sweet tea (my apologies to our northern folk who are confused as to the beverage I am referring to). The familiar laughter of family and friends will fill the air. And yet, for all the sounds of merriment and celebration, the ring of Freedom will most likely be lost in our own ears and the ears of our children.
Our children will gaze up at a wonderful display of fireworks and never see "the rocket’s red glare". They will hear the heart jumping sound of a firecracker and fail to connect it to "the bombs bursting in air". In other words, we do not know and cherish the story of our nation (its humble beginnings, its rich heritage, its great leaders, its growing pains and lessons learned), therefore, our children will not grow up being able to recognize, much less love, the "Freedom Ring" of the past.
This Independence Day, let us find it an occasion to look to the past and celebrate God’s providential hand in the birth of our nation. Let us give honor where honor is due. Let us find lessons to be learned rather than mistakes to be repeated. Let us love these blessed United States of America neither too much nor too little. But, rather, inasmuch as our nation’s interests have furthered and advanced our own interests as citizens in the Kingdom of God, let us rejoice and give thanks. Alexander Hamilton once wrote:
"The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave…to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest…[Such a] passionate attachment…produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest…where no real common interest exists…"
The danger for the next generation is that the "illusion of an imaginary common interest" will come in the form of life as a department store. There are many good options upon which to build your life (which translates into image for them). Just pick the one that looks good on you today. Remember, they have music players that hold 1000 songs. They have phones with a different ring for every person that calls. They have churches that go to great lengths to offer something better than the one across the street. Who needs a history lesson in a world like this? Apparently, we all do.
"When I consider Your heavens, the work of You fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?"—Psalm 8:3,4
A story untold is a story soon forgotten. Let freedom ring from our lips and in our hearts!