Independence Day USA Word on the Week 4th July 2020.
The concluding words of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address have lost none of their impact… “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” It has become the cornerstone of democracy. Along with the Statue of Liberty at the entrance of New York harbour its pledge of freedom has been gratefully received by many.
Lincoln used Biblical language. He realised that nothing short of a new birth could destroy the grip of slavery. There had to be 180 degree change in the way of regarding people of colour. I am not sure that President Trump sees it that way. He is reputed to see himself as the true successor to Lincoln but it is too soon to be thinking of his epitaph! He has an election to win first.
It must give rise to some wishful thinking when Trump reflects on the election-free status of his contemporaries. Xi Jinping who heads the communist party in China has life-long tenure of the job. Vladimir Putin the Russian President has this week ensured he remains in office till his 83 birthday. Both gentlemen are 67 years old whereas Donald Trump is 74. The temptation to have the 4-year presidential term limitation (subject to a maximum of two terms) removed must be hard to resist. However, he requires to be re-elected first!
It is the strong point of democracy that governments have to offer themselves for re-election at predetermined intervals. Indeed, they may be removed from Office should they lose their majority. They are answerable to the people who in turn must submit themselves to live under the law (Romans Chapter 13 verses 1 to 7).
It is a sobering thought to realise these words of scripture were faithfully recorded during a time of vicious persecution. They were written primarily to the church in Rome when persecution of Christians was at its height. The knowledge that the authorities were established by God must have been hard to accept. The only exceptions were when obedience to the government meant disobeying God (Daniel chapter 3 verses 12 to 18 and Acts Chapter 5 verse 29).
Christians have an unchanging Bible. The luxury of criticising leaders is given to secular journalists amongst others. The role of the believer is to pray for their leaders – “prayers be made for … those in authority … This is good and pleases God our Saviour who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy Chapter 2 verses 1 – 4). We have a different agenda!
May this Independence Day celebrate the ideals of the founding Fathers of the USA.