Walk humbly with God

Published 3:23 pm Thursday, June 20, 2019

From Memorial Day to the Fourth of July is a great time to be a U.S. American. I say U.S. American because to just say “American” can mean other nations besides the United States, but that’s for another piece. There are flags out everywhere, people are starting to head off to the beach or the mountains for vacation, and others revel in all of the delights of being a part of this great nation.

And we should. This is a great place. I have been all over the world and while I deeply appreciate and respect other nations and other people, there is no other nation I would rather live in than this one. During this stretch of the year that patriotic pride takes off as we remember those who have perished in defense of our freedoms, as we celebrate those who are currently in the armed forces, as we honor our flag, and then — to top it all off — as we shoot off fireworks in celebration of our national birthday.

But sometimes I worry. I was a history major in college and in that course of work I studied about people and places who used their excessive national pride to abuse and exploit, and in some cases kill, people who were different, or people whom they deemed a threat.

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In the eighth chapter of I Samuel the people of Israel want a king. They were tired of being ruled by a God they could not see through judges and prophets, so they went to the prophet Samuel. They wanted a king like every other nation. They wanted to be powerful and assertive in their independence. Samuel frets about this until God tells him to go back and tell the people what having a king will bring them – enslavement, oppression, taxation. They didn’t trust God enough so their lust for the power of a king won out.

As a student of history I have seen time after time when people use an appeal for national pride to get into power. Nothing wrong with that, except when they seek to have more power than they should, or when they appeal to our lower nature to be suspicious of others who are different, or when they twist the national story to appeal to their own narrow interests.

This is a great country because it is made up mostly of immigrants from other places who have sought the direction and guidance of a loving God. And they have sought that together, even with people who are different. As we celebrate our national story I hope we will also remember the call from the God our ancestors appealed to; the call to do what God required of them – to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God. As we celebrate our national story may we do so with that same sense of humbleness.

Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson can be reached at robin216@embarqmail.com.