ON THIS FOURTH OF JULY

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…  Psalm 33:12

I have been privileged to visit almost every part of our beautiful country.  I’ve met many of our wonderful citizens and seen vistas that rival the most stunning scenes in any part of the world.  We have architectural structures that please and fascinate, and the bounty we experience is historically unprecedented.

This is still the land of opportunity, and we are blessed.  We are still a country where hard work reaps amazing benefits; where anyone can receive an education; where basic healthcare is accessible to all; and where dreams can come true.  Contemplating these blessings, I went to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ web page to see how I should respond to the benefits that are provided to me, a citizen of this great country.  This is what I found:

I am to support and defend the Constitution, which outlines the fundamental laws and basic rights of citizens of the United States, discusses the representational form of our government, and specifies the checks and balances of the three branches of government.  If we are Christians, the Bible tells us to pray “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:2).

I should stay informed of the issues affecting my community.  We are to be informed in order to address the needs of those marginalized or to be change agents in matters of wholesome, right living.

I should participate in the democratic process.  The immediate thing we can do is become informed about candidates running for office, contribute time or finance, and then vote.  How can we complain if we don’t vote?

I must respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.  If we don’t like the laws, we work to get them changed.  Otherwise, we respect and obey.

I must respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.  Paul says in Romans 13:10 that “love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  We don’t have to agree with others, but we do have to love and respect them.

I should participate in my local community.  There are always opportunities to help out.  In this nation that has more volunteers per capita than any other country, we don’t have to go far to find a way to get involved.  Love does.

I must pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.  Hebrews 13:17 urges us to “ Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:”  Part of obedience is paying taxes.  After all, even Jesus made a point of paying his and Peter’s tax.

I should serve on a jury when called upon.  I always welcome and respond to the summons for jury duty knowing that I will never be chosen because of my husband’s long career as a state judge.  I once was a defendant in a civil suit, and I was grateful for all the people who were willing to give their time and attention to hear my story (and vote in my favor).

I should defend the country if the need should arise.  I am grateful for all the men and women who have given their lives for all the benefits and honor we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.

May we all cherish this beautiful country for whom so many gave their all, and may we all do our duty as faithful citizens.  And may God bless America.

Heavenly Father, the blessings of being citizens of this great nation are innumerable.  Thank you for inspiring men and women of long ago to dream, to sacrifice, and to work that we might enjoy the benefits known to so few around the world.  We honor them, and we thank you for the great gift of our country, the United States of America.  AMEN.

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