This Sunday, July 3, we will gather in one great service in the Worship Center at 10:30 a.m. On this Sunday closest to our national Independence Day, we will celebrate and give thanks to God for the liberties we enjoy as Americans . . . and for the ultimate freedom we have as followers of Jesus Christ.
Some might ask, “Is God pleased with a patriotic-themed worship service like the one we will have at Ingleside on July 3? When I look to Scripture for guidance, I believe the answer is clearly, “Yes.”
To be sure, there have been times in history when some who followed Christ have wrongly given the preeminence due only to God to a political party or a national entity. Or, some have so conflated their worship of God and their patriotic fervor until they were virtually indistinguishable.
Yet, Jesus taught his first followers that while their ultimate allegiance was to be to God, they should fulfill their responsibilities as citizens. In a memorable sentence he summarized it this way: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21, NIV).
In light of Jesus’ teaching, it is not surprising to read these words from the pen of the Apostle Paul about how we are to relate to governmental leaders: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7, ESV).
The words of the Apostle Peter are even more direct and succinct: “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17, NIV).
Scripture sees no inherent conflict between “fearing God” and “honoring the king.” In fact, Scripture commands us, whenever possible, to do both. When we worship God and honor our nation and its leaders, I’m confident it pleases the Lord.
So, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, July 3, at 10:30 a.m. as we gather to honor America and to worship God!