“In God we trust” became the official motto of the United States in 1956. Two years prior, the words “under God” were added to the pledge of alliance. However, long before official coinage and pledges, faith in God permeated people’s thoughts and hearts. First President, George Washington, stated “Let us indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience, both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle” (Demoss’ The Rebirth of America, 1986). While the founding fathers still held to the separation of church and state, the forefathers of the United States observed and respected the value of godly principles, understanding that without such the nation would never reach its full potential.
A nation that puts its trust in God will be blessed. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Ps. 33:12). It should be understood that America is not God’s chosen people, but rather the church that Christ built in the first century that contributes to the nation and encourages leaders and citizens to put God first in the principles that govern the nation (Gal. 6:16). The principles upon which the nation establishes its foundation should be grounded firmly in the Holy Scriptures, remembering “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). If chaos consumes the country, Christians have fewer and fewer opportunities to convert the lost. God expressly cares for government and the people under any nation.
God establishes three basic institutions to benefit mankind: the home, the church, and the government. The Almighty Creator designs each to support and uplift the other (Rom 13:1-14). God ordains different responsibilities and authorities within each establishment, nothing and no one sits in a position of authority unless God permits. A nation that tries to move God and His Word out of public life may be a nation whose days are numbered. What can faithful Christians do as citizens?
Christians exist both as citizens of God’s kingdom and citizens of a nation here on earth. God commands His citizens to do what is possible to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16) as citizens of their nations. In order to be this salt and light, God requires that Christians “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21). One must pay taxes and tribute to their governments. While taxes may be used for evil, they are also employed to protect the rights to assemble for worship, freedom of religion, and freedom to preach the truth. God permits America to be in a position of power for a reason, and Christians should not be a hinderance to the Lord’s providential work (Rom. 13:1,2). To the best of his/her ability, a Christian is to be a good citizen by respecting the law (1 Peter 2:13-17).
Furthermore, God demands that Christians pray for their leaders. Paul instructs, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2). Christians should believe in the power of prayer and the providential hand of God in government. Christians should love the land and people enough to pray for them and preach to them the truth in love (Isa. 58:1; Eph. 4:15). All Christians must understand that their first obligation and loyalty must be to the Lord and His kingdom (Acts 5:29), but that does not negate the love the follower of God should have for their country.
Ultimately, the Christians responsibility to their country and fellow citizens is to be a Christian example in truth and good works. Right after Paul talks about obeying government authority in Romans 13, he gives a list of attributes and examples for Christians to show their community. God wants the people of every nation to see His people in the following light. Paul writes:
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:8-10).
The only true exposure to faith and love that many people in this world will have is their Christian friend and neighbor. Every child of God should make the most of the opportunities that God gives them. God’s providential hand preserves the peace and prosperity of America to give its Christian citizens the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.