Why I Celebrate This Day

We in America celebrate independence today. If I really wanted to be picky, I would say this is the wrong day—the actual vote for independence came on July 2, 1776, but since the Declaration of Independence was approved two days later, that has become the national holiday. Fine with me; we should celebrate both days.

Of course, in order to celebrate it, one needs to know what it’s all about. As a people, we’re coming up a little short on that.

Is this assessment accurate? From my experience as a university history professor, I have no problem believing this piece of bad news. My students are woefully uninformed [and often deliberately misinformed] about American history.

Should we care?

Love for this country is going out of style in the general public, particularly among those of leftist orientation. Even a Harvard study went out of its way to comment that Independence Day celebrations are more for the “right-wing” and create more Republicans. Hmmm.

That’s the general public. But even some of my Christian brethren object to the celebration. They ask, in effect, “Is it right for a Christian to rejoice in the birth of this nation? After all, God is above all nations and our ultimate destination is beyond this earth.”

I understand. Just as much as any critic of celebrating an earthly kingdom, I recognize that everything on this earth, as it exists today at least, will pass away. We definitely are looking for that kingdom that won’t ever pass away. Yet I have no problem identifying with my country.

I believe all Christians, regardless of where they live on this earth, need to work actively to make their country more godly. The nice thing about the American heritage is that so many at the time of the Founding grasped the truth that God is the  source of all political authority. We have a nation that was built on Biblical principles. That doesn’t mean everyone was a Christian, but it does mean that our system of law and our cultural mores emanated from a Biblical worldview.

That is something to celebrate.

Regardless of who holds the reins of government power at any given time, I can be patriotic because I realize the promise this nation had from the beginning. In spite of all its faults at the present time, we continue to be able to worship God without government interference (for the most part—we’ll see how this develops over the next few years) and maintain our voluntary associations in most aspects of our culture (healthcare is on the verge of being an exception, but that can be changed).

No country has a perfectly unblemished record historically, yet one would be hard-pressed to find any other nation that has come as close to the goal as the United States. Slavery existed; now it is gone. Our experiment in self-government has fared better than anywhere else on the globe, to my knowledge. Although we are in dire straits currently, we have the opportunity, in our culture and in our government, to alter our direction, hopefully without the riots and disturbances we see in places like Greece.

God has given us a mission: take His truth into this nation and make a difference. I don’t celebrate America out of some jingoistic fever; I celebrate because America still provides the means for carrying out whatever specific mission God has given me. This is still a good place to live, despite its faults. I want to make it even better.