“God bless our native land; Firm may she ever stand, Through storm and night. When the wild tempests rave, Ruler of wind and wave, Do Thou our country save, By Thy great might.
“So shall our prayers arise, To God above the skies; On Him we wait. Thou who art ever nigh, Guarding with watchful eye, To Thee aloud we cry; God save the state.”
We may not really enjoy arguments about elected officials and political policies, even if now and then we become involved in such debates. Setting our various opinions aside, the Lord commands us to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1b ESV). All authority comes from God and earthly authorities have been set in place by Him. We are to pay “respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7b ESV). We may not want to respect leaders with whom we disagree, but we remember that the apostle Paul wrote those Spirit-breathed words under the rule of Rome, the empire whose ruler eventually sentenced the apostle to death.
We are blessed with the freedom to worship God and the freedom to engage in political debates. But we remember too, that while we are citizens of an earthly nation, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20a). We care for our earthly home, yet acknowledge that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth.” We “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:13b, 16 aESV). That better country is ours through faith in Jesus Christ. He left His heavenly home to be born among us. Living in a land occupied by a foreign power, Jesus allowed Himself to be unjustly judged and condemned to death. On the cross He took onto Himself the penalty of death that we justly deserved for our sinful rebellion against our heavenly King. Jesus’ body was taken down and buried, but a sealed and guarded tomb could not hold the Son of God. He rose from death and His victory means that we, too, will triumph over death. Confident in His victory, we long for our eternal home with Him.
Until then, we live as citizens of heaven and earth. Through His prophet, God said to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7 ESV). The exiles were to seek the good of their new home, even as they longed to be back in Jerusalem. In our hymn, we seek the good of our earthly home, asking God to “bless our native land” and to save our country by His great might. Our prayers arise continually to our God, who guards us “with watchful eye.” We pray for our leaders, for our fellow citizens, for our armed forces and all who serve our land and its people. Living in peace, we have the opportunity to witness for our Savior, the Lord of all nations, praying that others will come to faith and join us one day in that “better country.”
Prayer: Mighty Lord, bless our nation and its leaders, and grant us Your peace. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn “God Bless Our Native Land,” which is number 965 in the Lutheran Service Book.
Reprinted with permission from Lutheran Hour Ministries
1. What are your favorite Fourth of July activities? Will you be doing them again this year?
2. Do you feel you have to sometimes compromise your ideals and values as a U.S. citizen?
3. What principles do you most keep in mind to be the best citizen you can be?