As I write these words I’m with my son, Paul, in Washington, D.C. From the roof-top of his fourteen story apartment building, we’ve got a clear view of the Washington Monument. Tonight we’ll watch the firework display. I look forward to the eye-candy of sparkling confetti that will illumine the sky and monument below.
Yet, these are sad days for our country. Since Roe v Wade over 54 million unborn children have been murdered–that’s around 3,000 a day. Last weekend I spent time with Dr. Ken Canfield, a leading advocate of the fatherless. He told me about the devastation that has occurred in the inner-city, where he lives in Los Angeles. Almost an entire generation of black children have been killed by the abortionist’s knife.
I remember hearing the late Francis Shaffer tell an audience in 1979 that once a nation accepts the idea that there is a life not worthy to be lived it won’t be long before abortion will be followed by euthanasia. Today my home state practices physician assisted suicide for the terminally ill. In Oregon, doctor’s serve as healer and executioner. If Shaffer’s prediction proves true, the day will come when the elderly will be denied medical treatment because it costs too much to treat people who serve no useful purpose. And this will be called something appealing like, “Death With Dignity.” The elderly will sacrifice their lives for the good of the next generation.
In spite of all of this, we must remember that one of America’s most important founders, John Adams, wrote that Independence Day should be “… solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations …” But John Adams’ instructions did not end with the “pomp and parade,” for in the same breath he went on to explain that this day “… ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” He wrote these words at a time when whites were free and blacks were slaves–something he strongly opposed. Yes, a horrible form of evil prevailed back then too.
In properly recognizing this extra dimension to Independence Day, we should not just merely nod our heads in agreement; we ought to humbly fall to ours knees and pray for our leaders, as Scripture commands, and as those in authority need.
In opening his first letter to his dear friend Timothy, Paul wrote that, “… requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority …” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) This verse probably sounds familiar to most of us, but how many of us read commands like this, pause for a moment, and then move on with our life? It’s interesting to note that Paul marked at the top of his prayer request list “kings” and “all those in authority.” This verse, coupled with John Adams’ declaration that Independence Day ought to be celebrated by setting our eyes towards the Almighty, make Paul’s instructions even more appropriate.
Such a recognition of the importance of prayer is startling to hear from someone living in an empire as evil as the Roman Empire. Now days, the Fourth of July has become a time for Americans to come together with their family, friends, and neighbors to celebrate our nation’s founding by watching fireworks and eating hotdogs. But the founders of our nation envisioned something different. Yes, they advocated pomp and celebration, but they also knew that it ought to be about something deeper–something more divine. They wanted this day, July Fourth, to serve as a reminder to thank God for his blessings upon our nation. And in making this the true purpose of Independence Day, we ought to be propelled towards Paul’s command to pray for our leaders … even those we disagree with. The only hope our nation has rests on divine intervention. Through much prayer, the horrible practice of slavery was abolished in the United States. God willing, the current social ills will also one day be healed.
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