This holiday weekend, Americans will consume 150 million hot dogs. Laid end to end, they would stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. We will also consume 700 million pounds of chicken. We will spend $152 million on chips and dip and $203 million on condiments.
And we will sing, “God Bless America.” At baseball games and parades and concerts. As we celebrate today the 240th birthday of this nation we love, let’s ask ourselves: Why has God blessed America?
A scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told a group of Westerners in 2002 that his group was “asked to look into . . . what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.” After dismissing views that our success was tied to our military, politics, or economic system, they concluded: “the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West has been so powerful. The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.”
When Christopher Columbus set foot on land in the New World, these were his first words: “Blessed be the light of day, and the Holy Cross we say; and the Lord of Verity, and the Holy Trinity.”
The first set of written laws for the New World was the Mayflower Compact, ratified in 1620. Some have called it “the first American Constitution.” John Quincy Adams called it the foundation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Compact states that the Pilgrims came to the New World “for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith.” They made their covenant “in the Presence of God.” According to William Bradford, their governor, when the Pilgrims came ashore “they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean.”
Next came the “Fundamental Orders” of 1639, the first written Constitution in the New World. Its preamble states the colonists’ purpose: “To maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess.”
Scripture promises: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 33:12). “Blessed” translates a Hebrew word meaning, “to be so blessed as to be envied by others.” Every nation makes someone or something its god. But when we make our God the one true Lord of the universe, we position ourselves to be blessed by his grace.
Our Father will bless any nation whose people seek his favor: “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 33:18). But as with the first Americans, we must choose to seek what his love intends to give.
The greatest gift we can give our nation is to help her citizens be people God can bless. So let’s choose to reverence God and place our hope in his love. Let’s pray for others to do the same. And let’s pray what we sing: “God bless America.” Today and every day, to the glory of our Lord.