This 4th of July, I’m (as ever) torn between faith and patriotism. A friend said that freedom can never be won or maintained by any soldier or government, and that our true freedom only comes from Christ. I have to agree, but I’m left questioning, “Then why government? And why our government?”
The answer, I believe, is that we were given stewardship of this world in the garden of Eden. When God told us to multiply and fill the earth, to care for it and govern all that it contains, I believe that political government is part of that mandate.
The United States Government is not the answer to all things, nor the answer to ultimate freedom. All things we have, freedom in its several types included, are ours because God has willed it so. In the specific case of freedom, God sent his son, Jesus, to secure that freedom and redeem us for Himself.
But if we’re living out the redeemed lives we’ve been given, we can’t ignore the several mandates that political governance can fulfill. Far from ignoring the structures that order our communal lives, we’re to pay attention to those structures; to provide for justice and care for the oppressed. If we call ourselves Christians, then our government should not be ignored, but attended to carefully. We need to enter into dialogue with others, to seek optimal ordering of our communal life, to provide justice and order. Even political freedom should be on our list of priorities if follow carefully God’s mandate to govern the earth.
You probably won’t hear me saying that our government is optimal, or that our nation is the only nation on earth with the truth. For truth doesn’t reside in our political structures, but those structures should reflect truth if we’re obedient to the governance mandate. You won’t hear me say that it’s the American Way to put a boot in anyone’s fundament, though that brand of overblown patriotic pride fascinates me in the same way that a car accident slows down traffic.
But you will hear me say that it’s our responsibility to craft and mold a government that reflects the character of God. A nation with such an orientation wisely seeks justice on a national and global scale, and reflects the very good values of freedom and equanimity that we learn from our creator’s nature. I seek to join in the crafting of such a government. And to the extent that our government reflects this orientation, I will celebrate. Indeed, we encourage what we celebrate, so I celebrate the political freedom that so many have worked and died to craft. Though it’s only a reflection of true freedom from the tyranny of sin and death, it’s still a worthy reflection.
And as I pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven, I will work in the space and time I occupy to make that prayer a reality. Not that I seek to create a theistic government, but a government that reflects the goodness of God.