Why I Love America
Why I Love America
(July 4, 2021)
I’ve really been looking forward to sharing this message today because, frankly, I am tired of people trashing the United States of America. Some ridicule patriotic worship services like this as being naïve and oblivious to America’s flaws. “America is a racist country,” they say. “Our prosperity was built on the backs of slaves.” Or, “America is a war-mongering nation. We abused the Native Americans, and we got involved in foreign conflicts where we should’ve stayed away.” “America is a greedy, materialistic nation,” they say. “America is a land where the one percent rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the middle class is shrinking.” And they suggest we need to replace our capitalistic system with socialism.
Oh, boy. Anyone who thinks that way has never traveled to a socialistic country like Cuba. I’ve never met anyone who has been there who hasn’t said, “Socialism is a disaster.” Margaret Thatcher said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Now I know that some Christian people – probably some of you – are very uncomfortable with patriotic services like this because they fear that we’re worshipping the country instead of worshipping God. That is a danger. I, frankly, see very little of that. It’s not idolatry to give God thanks for your country on July 4th any more than it’s idolatry to give thanks for your mother on Mother’s Day. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above,” (James 1:17) and when God gives a good gift, we ought to be thankful.
A little boy fell off a pier into the shark-infested ocean waters below. And the mother was panicked, cried out for desperation, and a complete stranger dove into the water, found the boy, pulled him to safety. The mother embraced the boy and then finally came over to the man who had saved him, and she said, “Mister, he had a hat.” In spite of all the good things that God has bestowed upon us, including our salvation, if we do little but gripe, it is the height of ingratitude.
Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen for His inheritance.”
And that is not just a promise to Israel but to any nation that honors the Lord. And when God blesses us, the right reaction is to sing with fervor, “God bless America, land that I love.”
Now that’s why I want to talk with you this morning about why I love America. You know, you can ruin your marriage by focusing on the 5% that’s wrong and ignoring the 95% that’s healthy. And I could spend an entire sermon this morning ranting about all the things that are wrong spiritually with America, and I wouldn’t run out of material. But since the Bible commands us to emphasize the things that are true and good and excellent and praiseworthy, I’d like to share with you why I love America, why I’m unashamedly patriotic.
I. GOD HAS BLESSED US WITH ABUNDANT RESOURCES.
I love America because of its abundant resources.
On November 19th, 1620, the Pilgrims arrived on The Mayflower to the New World. And they scanned the shoreline just to the west of them, and one observer wrote down, “It is a goodly land, wooded to the brink of the sea.” They couldn’t get over the number of trees here. America has so much timber that we’ve built frame houses and erected telephone poles and laid railroad ties all across the land.
My dad worked as a conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad hauling goods by train across the state of Kansas. Oftentimes he pulled duty on a coal train. Those trains are typically made up of 115 coal cars, each carrying approximately 116 tons apiece. It always amazes me when I think about it. Each train hauls 13,000 tons of coal, give or take a little, enough for one powerplant to turn the turbines that provide reasonable electricity for those it serves for one day. Right now, on average there are 80 coal trains per day delivering coal to powerplants all across our country.
In recent years we’ve discovered there’s enough oil in North Dakota to supply all our nation’s needs. We have so much oil and natural gas that now we’re becoming energy independent.
Drive across the Midwest and look at the amber waves of grain; or look at Florida and California, and you conclude that we are a land flowing with milk and honey and tomatoes and strawberries.
A number of years ago I attended a North American Christian Convention and attended a workshop where three college age kids from a church in Poland were being interviewed. The trip to the convention was the first time they’d been to America, and the workshop leader asked, “What’s impressed you most about the United States?” And they didn’t say our amusement parks or our massive malls. They said, “The most impressive thing here is your supermarkets. So much food, so many choices.”
We are so rich in America that we take it for granted. God has spoiled us. But we ought to give God thanks for this abundant land.
You know, 28% of the landmass of China, which is fairly comparable to the land mass of the United States…28% of the landmass of China is desert, and nearly half of it is uninhabitable. But here in America, almost every corner of the land has access to plenty of water through rainfall or through irrigation.
I think of Psalm 65 that says, “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance” (vv. 9-11). That’s the United States of America.
This is not only a bountiful land, but also a beautiful land. We sing “America the Beautiful” for a reason. This country contains some of the most spectacular places on the Earth. If you’ve visited Niagara Falls, Yellowstone or Yosemite Park, Kaanapali Beach, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Grand Teton Mountains, Smoky Mountains, Pikes Peak, Cape Cod—you’ve seen some of the most beautiful places on the Earth. That doesn’t make us superior to anybody, but it should make us more grateful.
I love America because it’s a land of resources.
II. GOD HAS BLESSED US WITH SOUND FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES.
I also love America because of its founding principles.
In Psalm 127:1, the Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” This nation was built on spiritual principles.
Now our founding fathers were not perfect men, but they were mostly Christian men who saw the world through biblical glasses. Their intent was not to start here a theocracy, but they did build a nation on basic, biblical principles. In fact, John Adams, the second president, stated, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.”
Since today is July 4th, let’s take a few minutes to reexamine The Declaration of Independence because it reflects some wise, spiritual principles that have enabled this nation to endure and prosper. Now sit up, wipe the cobwebs from your mind, because when our forefathers wrote they weren’t concerned about 280 characters in a tweet somewhere. It’s a little deeper than that. We have to stay focused.
Here’s the opening paragraph: “When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.”
In other words, “We’re going to explain why we’re declaring independence from Great Britain. It’s because we have God-given rights that are being violated.”
I want you to see three, sound principles in The Declaration.
The first is this: Government gets its authority from God.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Now notice our forefathers acknowledged there is a God and He is sovereign over us, and God created every person with certain innate rights. And the King of England has usurped those rights, they are saying, and he needs to be reminded that he has the authority to govern—not because he inherited that authority from his father, but he inherited it from God and he’s answerable to a higher authority.
Now, of course, they were right. Daniel, the second chapter, says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them” (vv. 20-21).
Here’s a second principle from The Declaration: Government is accountable to the people.
“That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed….”
After God comes people, and after people comes the government, and only by the people’s consent do the government officials rule. So our forefathers determined that we would be a government not ruled by kings but by law. We’d be a government of the people by the people for the people. We would elect the most capable among us to represent us and to write, interpret and enforce the law.
The third principle in The Declaration is this: Government is capable of horrendous evil and must be restrained.
“…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Now the next few sentences say nobody should overthrow any government lightly, because there’s no perfect government. But we’ve suffered under this unreasonable despot long enough, and when people suffer a “Train of Abuses…it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”
You see, our founding fathers believed in the sin nature of man, and they saw how power had corrupted King George. They believed government is not to be trusted with unlimited power, but at the same time they acknowledged the danger of pure democracy, because people could be selfish, or people could be ignorant. And that’s why they established states’ rights and the electoral college and they said, “We’re going to have representatives.”
- Vernon McGee once said, “Sometimes majority opinion just means you’ve got a lot of fools in one place.”
So, a few years after the writing of The Declaration of Independence they met to form a new government in the Constitutional Convention and they developed a constitutional republic in which there were checks and balances, devices to try to stop a tyrant in his tracks. They divided the government into three branches (the judicial, the executive and the legislative), and these three were to be equal. They distrusted government so much that they divided the legislative branch into two, separate branches. They tried, as best they could, to have a balance of power, and then they added the amendments to The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, to guarantee America’s freedom.
And our forefathers did something right. I mean, this government has endured for 245 years, enabling us to prosper and become the most prosperous nation in the history of the world. And we have this amazing freedom to travel and freedom to worship and freedom of the press and freedom of speech which are unparalleled in the history of man. And the way to give God thanks is not just with our prayers but with our involvement in the system.
I got into a little bit of an argument with young preacher from awhile back who said that the preacher should never touch on anything politically controversial in the pulpit, which is pretty tough to do because politics is now encroaching on religion. And he said, “If you touch on anything political it turns off the millennial and you turn off the seeker and you lose the opportunity to witness to them for Christ. So just…just talk about Jesus and never say anything that encroaches on politics.” I said to him, “You know, if John the Baptist had followed that philosophy, he would’ve never gotten beheaded. (Because he was critical of King Herod for living with his brother’s wife.)” He said, “Well, the apostle Paul lived under oppressive government, and he never said we ought to have an uprising against Rome. He was never critical of the Roman Empire. He just said that we ought to be submissive to it.” And I said, “Well, that’s a big difference. The apostle Paul lived under a tyranny, but in the United States you live in a constitutional republic. And you are the government, and you have a responsibility to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to you so that it can be passed on to the next generation.” Now I’m confident that he had a good response, but I can’t remember it because I was so impressed with my own answer. My ideas and my grandkids are always the best, you know?
Pastor Wayne Smith used to say, “It’s one thing to sing the national anthem; it’s another to join the army. And it’s one thing to exercise our freedom to preach, and it’s another thing to preserve it and pass it along to the next generation.”
III. GOD HAS BLESSED US WITH PROVIDENTIAL FAVOR.
I also love America because of providential favor.
I believe America is divinely favored as a country. God promised, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Psalm 33:12). And America has never been a perfect nation, but it was a nation that began with an intent to honor God—and God has kept His promise. The concluding sentence of The Declaration reads, “…with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence….”
Over the past couple of weeks I read this book by Michael Medved, who’s an Orthodox Jew, called The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic, and he points out a series of incredible miracles in our history that can’t be dismissed as luck or coincidence. He says, “The most notable leaders of the past four hundred years have identified this good fortune as a reflection of divine providence.”
Well, immediately after The Declaration of Independence came the Revolutionary War, and George Washington was asked to head up the Continental Army. And Washington later confided to his military aid, Joseph Reed, that he never would’ve accepted that command if he had understood how undisciplined the American army was, what a ragtag bunch it was, and if he had realized what a perilous situation he was in. He later added that, “If we prevail it will only be because we’ve involved the intervention of a higher power.” He said, “I shall most religiously believe, if we prevail, that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies.”
Well, you know the story of how at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, just several months into it, Washington had nine thousand troops trying to defend New York City; and they got trapped on Long Island because the greatest military force in the world, the British, had twenty thousand troops with all their artillery just several miles away about to attack. And they were trapped at the East River, and it was a mile across. And there were British warships in the mouth of the harbor, and two of those warships were about to sail up the river a little bit…two ships that had seventy-two cannons to completely trap the Continental Army…and the Revolution would be suppressed in a matter of just a few months. It was disastrous.
But it just so happened that a fierce wind, like hurricane force, began to blow before the British attacked. And the ships could not sail up the harbor, and the storm was so severe that the British General Howe decided to delay his attack. That gave Washington just a window of opportunity to take the risk and try to get his soldiers to the other side of the East River so that they could survive and fight another day. So he confiscated every small craft in the area, and they managed to get a good number of them across. But they are most vulnerable at that time. Washington knew when dawn broke and the British saw what they were doing they would be in trouble, and they still didn’t have all of his men across. But it just so happened that the wind died down, and when it did a dense fog settled over the area. One soldier said, “You could not see six feet in front of your face.” And strangely, the river became as smooth as glass, and they were able, under this two or three hours of fog, to get every soldier across. One Connecticut soldier said that he took eleven trips across the river. But strangely, on the other side of the river, there was no fog at all, and it was easy to disembark and turn around and come back. Not one soldier was killed. No one was seriously injured. And Washington later admitted that that was definitely the hand of God, and they escaped.
David McCullough, a very respected modern author, wrote, “Incredibly, yet again, circumstances, fate, luck, Providence, the hand of God, as would be said so often, intervened.”
How do you think the press of that day covered that? The New England Chronicle, among others, designated Washington’s maneuver as “a masterpiece and a sign that Providence favored us.” Wouldn’t you like for the press to be that supportive today?
In George Washington’s first inaugural address, he said, “No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”
And you know what? The hand of God has been in this country during the last 240 plus years.
In the mid-1800s, America was sharply divided over slavery. Like we’re divided over abortion today—only it was even more intense. And slavery was a terrible scar in the history of this country. We paid a terrible price for that sin. Six hundred and twenty thousand soldiers died in the Civil War, which is more than any other conflict in history. But slavery was not unique to America. We did not invent it. It was practiced all over the world. It could be traced back thousands of years. And while I’m embarrassed by that scar, I’m proud that America helped lead the way in the emancipation of slavery. And though it took seventy-five years, slavery was outlawed so that all Americans could be free.
But Michael Medved points out the providential hand of God even in that. Because, in 1860, a man named Abraham Lincoln became the President of the United States, and he was the most unlikely to become president. He battled depression. He had no formal training. He had just failed at an effort to win the Senate. But there were eleven Republican names on the ballot, and Lincoln’s name was at the bottom. But there were two ballots where no one was elected, and Lincoln was a good orator; and the momentum began to swell, and finally the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln. And with four parties in that day, suddenly, Lincoln became the President of the United States. And some sophisticated people said, “What has happened to us?” They called him “a buffoon, the original gorilla, a clod and a clown.” They just couldn’t believe it. But Abraham Lincoln…Abraham Lincoln felt the call of God on his life, and he referred to himself as “a humble instrument in the hand of the Heavenly Father.”
And Michael Medved records that Lincoln really struggled with if and when to sign The Emancipation Proclamation. And he got to the point where he started asking God for some supernatural sign that it should be done, and he narrowed that down by concluding that if the Confederate Army could be driven out of Pennsylvania and Robert E. Lee defeated, that would be his sign because the momentum was not on their side.
Well, it just so happened that the Union soldiers from the 27th Infantry stopped to take a break in a field where the Confederate Army had just vacated it a day or two before. The field was filled with trash. But a soldier from Indiana by the name of Martin Mitchell laid down to take a nap, and he saw a strange package in a clump of grass just near where he was lying. Without even getting up, he picked up this package that had strange wrappings, and he unwrapped it. And to his delight, there were three, fragrant cigars inside, and he and his friend began smoking these cigars. Then their curiosity got the best of them, and they picked up that crumpled piece of paper and began to examine it. And there was dense handwriting on it, and they were more and more astonished that that piece of paper left behind contained the detailed plans of Robert E. Lee’s proposed attack in the upcoming battle. Medved says, “Lincoln’s army became the beneficiary of the greatest security leak in American history.” That reversed the war in the Union’s favor, and Lincoln took that as a supernatural sign. And when he signed The Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln said, “God has decided the question in favor of the slaves.”
Charles Hodge of Princeton Theological Seminary declared… Listen to this: “The first and most obvious consequence of the dreadful civil war just ended, has been the final and universal overthrow of slavery within the limits of the United States. This is one of the most momentous events in the history of the world. That it was the design of God to bring about this event cannot be doubted.”
All throughout our history, people from every walk of life believed this was a favored land, an exceptionally favored land.
In 1944, American soldiers were about to invade Normandy, and the President of the United States, who himself was not a deeply religious man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, offered a prayer for the nation over the radio. “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion…” He didn’t say, “Our religions (plural).” He said, “…our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity…. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings….” And then he says, “Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.”
Now you can look at the landing of The Mayflower, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, The Emancipation Proclamation and World War II and say “coincidence.” But it’s God-incidence. Even Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, one of the most liberal judges in history, wrote in 1954, “I believe that no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the good book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.”
Now here we are, seventy-five years after World War II, and we’re once again in desperate need. Our nation is horribly divided right now. There is so much incivility, anger. Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). And we just came through a political campaign season that many scholars are saying will be remembered as one of the nastiest ever. Most of us despised it. And some Christian leaders that I respect suggest our current chaos is an indication that God is now finished with America. Because for the last fifty years, in our pride, we’ve turned our back on Him and rejected Him and we’re trying to go it alone; and here we are. And the same God who said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” (Psalm 33:12) is the God who said, “The wicked will be cast into hell, and all nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). So some say, “We’re finished.”
But I still have hope because I believe in a God of miracles. I believe in a God who can do all things. I believe that nothing is impossible with God.
Remember when the Israelites were trapped at the Red Sea with the Egyptian army behind them and the Red Sea in front of them? And they panicked and they cried out against Moses, “We’re done!” But God told Moses, “You tell the people to stand firm and wait and see what I will do” (Exodus 14). And that night a fierce wind blew, and by morning the Red Sea had been parted and they walked across on dry ground.
There is a solution to America’s problem. It’s not to vote the right way or to write letters. Our only hope right now is to stand firm and trust God for the wind of God to blow again, for Him to work in a miraculous way. With a firm reliance on divine protection, to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. And there is a God who promised, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).