John Adams was so excited on that day, in July 1776, that he proclaimed it ought to be commemorated and remembered, “as the day of deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illumination from one end of the continent to the other from this time forward and forever more.”
In towns and cities across our nation, there are Independence Day celebrations with the illumination of fireworks, the boom of the bursting rockets in the air and dazzling displays of colors and pageantry. In some communities, like the tiny town of Monument, just up the road from Colorado Springs, the Fourth of July is being celebrated with a parade.
What does the Kingdom of God have to do with the Fourth of July? Jesus told us to, “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Jesus told us that the greatest command in all of scripture is, “to love God with all of our heart…and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” What is it about the Fourth that brings out, what I will call, the patriotism of the Kingdom of God?
For most of us, we will celebrate the Fourth of July with our family. It’s in our family that the Kingdom of God is most evident. St. Augustine said, “It’s as though God had cast lots and assigned each one of us to a particular family, a particular church and a particular country.” Our closest neighbor is our family. God has placed us in particular relationships—our family, our church and our nation, from which we exhibit the love of Christ.
It’s easy to love people in the abstract. It’s much harder to love people who are right in front of us. As C. S. Lewis says, “We are constantly tempted to love only what is lovable. To love our wives only when they are kind and beautiful. To only love our husbands when they are successful. To love our children only when they’re pleasant.” But that’s not how God loves. He loves us even when we are unlovable, just because He has chosen us to be His people. He commands us to do the same.
We love our family because they’re our own. We love our church because it’s the church that we have been called to be a part of. We love our country, not because it’s perfect, but because it’s the country we were born into. It’s the place where God has placed us. This is tough love. This is the Kingdom of God. When we gather together on the Fourth of July and we enjoy the relationships of our family, we are living the patriotism of the Kingdom of God.
A Kingdom Patriot,
Steve Holt M.A., D.D.
My newest book, Worshipper Warrior, can be found at www.steveholtonline.org