Today, we celebrate Independence Day here in the States. The Red, White, and Blue waves over many households. Fireworks explode around us. For a moment, perhaps, we act as “one nation” and forget all that divides us. We can enjoy time with family and we have opportunity to be grateful for God’s providence in establishing this great land of America.
Because of the influence of the past 12 months of the Social Justice movement, the national pledge causes us to pause. Whenever we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we remember the final words, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We like to stress as believers that we are “under God…” For those who don’t have a moral compass grounded in God, the words “liberty for all” are appealing. The social justice movement rallies behind the last phrase – “justice for all…” I don’t believe our Founding Fathers expected these concepts to be compartmentalized. A nation that truly lives as “under God” will enjoy liberty and justice. In short, righteousness will exalt a nation.
We think of these words in the context of the “Pledge of Allegiance” to America. It’s on a national level. Yet, consider these words in a different context, a spiritual context. What changes?
For me, I am glad God doesn’t give “justice for all.” I’m glad He is a dispenser of mercy as well. Additionally, I believe the way the Founding Fathers (and Mothers!) understood liberty may be different from today’s generation. Today, liberty means I have the freedom to do whatever I want. This was not true nationally, nor is it true spiritually.
Paul deals with the concept of Christian liberty in Galatians 5:13. He says that we have “been called unto liberty.” Yet, the verse does not stop there. He continues, “Only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh…” He provides an example of how liberty is NOT to be used. Liberty is not to excuse your fleshly desires and cloak them with spiritual terminology. Then he provides an example of what Christian liberty is, “…but by love serve one another…”
True Christian liberty is the ability and freedom we have to serve others and to serve Christ. This really is the recipe for lasting joy. So, the next time you recite that pledge, think about your Christian liberty and also be grateful that God also gives mercy!
When it comes to true justice, we can define that as getting what we deserve -without any favor, grace, or mercy. In contrast, social justice seeks to hand people what they do not deserve because they are favored. So, the argument comes for the redistribution of wealth or for reparations made to certain classes of people.
Sometimes the intentions are noble and honorable – at other times, the motivations can seem suspect. This idea of “justice” has become a watershed moment in our history. We’ll never get all sides to agree. Biblically, however, this is where we can agree:
- Ultimate justice to mankind is an eternity separated from Christ
- We don’t really want justice; we want mercy
- As we seek to at least be “one person, under God…” we can enjoy the responsibilities of treating our neighbors fairly
- Because all mankind, regardless of color, gender, or other classifications, are image-bearers of God. We retain the imago Dei, thus, all should be treated with respect, with dignity, affirming their worth and value to our God.
As you wind down your July 4 celebrations, may God place a hope deep within us to anticipate the coming King who will be able to set all things right. Fallen man has made a mess; the Perfect Man will not!