By McKenna Takach
July 4, 2020
Passages of the day: Click HERE to read today’s passages.
2 Kings 23:31-25:30
Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved being an American. When I was in 5th grade, I boldly told my parents I would be the first female president of the United States. When I realized 50% of people end up hating the president, I decided instead I would rather be First Lady. Couple those ambitions with the fact I told people in High School I wanted to marry a man like Abraham Lincoln because he stood up for what was right, and you have yourself a very patriotic young lady.
I remember feeling like my roots were in the foundations of this nation: an ancestor’s name on the Liberty Bell, a Great Great Grandma who came to the West in a covered wagon, a surname that declared we were Irish immigrants, and a family that honored the ideals that made our nation seem so great. Freedom, opportunity, happiness, safety, courage, standing up against injustice… just to name a few.
But this Fourth of July feels different than it always has. On top of the lack of fireworks and festivities, there is a heaviness that hangs in the air. We are divided as a nation and the anger that fills our news cycles and media feeds seems like we should have seen it coming. It feels as though it has been bubbling unattended under the surface of our self-importance for a long time. This Fourth of July, I have had to deal with what I’ve come to call my “disenchantment” with my country. The men I aggrandized as heroes had flawed ideals and imperfect track records. The Manifest Destiny my family embraced was destructive to whole people groups. The perfection I once saw in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation has been tainted by the reality of apathy and self-righteous superiority in the human spirit.
The higher the ideals of an institution, the quicker the institution is bound to expose its own hypocrisy. And the ideals our country was built on are some of the highest, which means we have always risked falling the farthest.
Disenchantment of any kind often makes the one who has been disenchanted feel as though they were betrayed. The shine that once held them in awe has been tarnished, and the thing once held as a prize no longer seems valuable at all. But that’s not how it has to be for us as followers of Jesus living in the United States.
You see, we have a privilege as followers of Jesus because we already knew people are broken and capable of tremendous evil. Why are we so surprised when the history we stand on is not as perfect as we wish it was? We already knew people are not pure heroes. Abraham, Moses, Samson, David…Mary! Though they reflected the goodness and mercy and justice of God in so many ways, they were flawed pictures of perfection. All of scripture points to one, single, true hero and that is Jesus Christ alone. We already knew. And while our cultural moment is big and painful, we can take our disenchantment and turn it into a new beginning.
Yes, I still love the United States of America. But now, I can celebrate not just the larger than life figures of our history as though they were cartoons. Instead, I can see them as humans. Flawed men and women trying to imperfectly enact lofty ideals that are worth pursuing. And while we will always be an imperfect nation filled with imperfect people, we serve a perfect God in whose Kingdom the greatest ideal is not freedom, but love. And because of that, I will celebrate not just who we are as a nation, but who we have always wanted to become. Happy Fourth of July New North.