Should God Bless America?
God bless America! We often hear this on the lips of Christians and even non-Christians around the 4th of July. Certainly, this is what we all wish. We desire to be God’s people and we want God to bless our nation. Yet, when people use this phrase so flippantly and irreligious politicians end their speeches with this injunction, I get a sinking feeling that God’s Blessings might not be so readily forthcoming.
I get this same feeling when I go to funerals. Strangely enough, whenever I attend a funeral, I am always assured that the deceased has “gone to a better place.” Its funny, but I never realized that I lived among such godly people! The problem, however, is that I distinctly remember troubling things about some of these people while they were yet living. Why do we play such games at funerals? We seem to think that God will accept us no matter what we do in our life, even when we refuse to repent of our sinful deeds. What about responsibility? Don’t we believe that there are consequences to our actions? Our society and even Christians seem to have become irrationally optimistic about God’s blessings for our personal lives and our nation.
If we take a moment to look in the Bible, we find that God’s blessings are not unconditional. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with his people. We read in Deuteronomy 11: 26-28, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” God promises to bless us only if we love him and follow his commands. We frequently forget the other side of the bargain. He will curse us if we follow other gods.
The irrationally optimistic person will quickly object: “that may be true in the Old Testament but we live under the new covenant.” True, no one can live up to the perfect standard of the Old Covenant. We all have fallen short of God’s glory and disobeyed His commandments. Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the Law of the Old Covenant. Yet, Jesus did not suffer on the cross so that we may continue to sin against God. Jesus called us to repent and believe in his saving grace. Thus, the New Covenant does make it much easier to receive God’s blessing. The requirement to be morally perfect has been dropped. We need only repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus.
However, once again we forget the other side of God’s covenant. If we follow other gods, He will curse us. Here the New Covenant does not offer us any easy escape from God’s Judgment. Jesus stated in Matthew 11:21-22 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.” Jesus is merciful to forgive us of our sins if we repent, yet if we refuse to repent and reject Christ’s work on the cross, we will still suffer God’s curse.
Should God then bless America? God does not bless us regardless of what we do. God’s blessings have been bought at price: the death of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, God blessed Israel when they sought God and followed his commands. Nevertheless, the history of Israel was mostly an account of God punishing his people for following other gods. In America, we are no longer under the harsh tutelage of the Law. We need only repent of our sins and acknowledge Christ as our savior. Yet does our nation repent of our sins and seek Christ?
Our nation must repent if we expect God to bless America. Otherwise, God’s curse will be upon us. What path shall we take? If my hope was in Man, I would continue to have that same sinking feeling. With man it would be impossible, but with God all things are possible. Today, we should not vainly ask God to bless us. Rather we should cry out, “Lord, have mercy on our nation.”