Most of my fellow citizens spent this day celebrating our nation’s 246th birthday. Americans loved, lived, and laughed today. We gathered at parks, beaches, swimming pools, and lakes. We feasted as savory smoke from backyard grills wafted through our neighborhoods. Many of us bowed our heads in gratitude to God for the countless and undeserved blessings he has poured out on America.
But there has never been a time in our history when any of our cities were “undimmed by human tears.”
You will notice that another mass shooting occurred today in our country and you will rightly wonder what is wrong with us. You can’t help but notice. A free press is necessary to secure our freedom, and every news agency will compete to bring you breaking news, the latest developments, and most graphic video (that they will warn you about, of course, and that will make you want to watch it all the more). When they have no new developments, they will keep talking anyway, and loop the video to keep you watching. They are doing their job and citizens of a republic need to be informed.
But the sword of the media has two edges. One of the reasons unstable and self-absorbed people do such cruel and cowardly things is that they are assured that you will hear their name and see their carnage three thousand miles away on your screen. If these evil-doers wanted attention, we all will oblige them.
An Independence Day Parade, of all things, in the heartland of America.
This day is a celebration of our ideals, ensconced in the Declaration of Independence. True, we have never fully lived up to those ideals. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said six decades ago, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Our creed insists, among other things, that every child has the right to expect to go to a 4th of July parade without fear of losing their parents, or their own life.
So yes, there is something wrong with us. There is something especially wrong with our young men. Already, there are experts on television placing blame on someone else for this tragedy. The problem is “them” and their policies. That tribe. That party. Those people. Them. And we have a critical shortage of leaders who can bring people together in a way that produces workable solutions.
But before this day ends, I ask you to consider that along with the stunning depths of human depravity that you saw once again displayed in our nation, there was a massive show of the “imago dei.” Acts of love and selfless service by bystanders rendering aid to victims, men and women in uniforms putting themselves in harm’s way, medical professionals putting together what a murderer tore asunder, communities coming together in support. This too, is America.
By the sheer grace of a sovereign God, there is peace and prosperity, law and order, in my community tonight. I have had my fill of barbecued ribs, watermelon, and tomatoes grown in my yard. An American flag hangs from my front porch. I can hear the “bombs bursting in air” over our local park, but the festival organizer got a permit to launch them first. There are many things wrong with us, but there is still a lot of good here.
Just wanted to let you know, in case you were watching the news tonight.
Pray for us. Our only hope has always been, and will always be, the gospel. Sadly, the church in America has largely squandered the credibility required to persuasively proclaim it.