BRADY COLUMN: God Bless America

Published 2:14 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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In our day, we have seen a number of significant cultural shifts. I’ll only mention a few to make the point: The common good is being replaced by selfish pursuit. Community relationships are becoming relationships of convenience. “Your word is your bond” is becoming “words shift with circumstances.” Duty and decency are becoming enlightened emancipation. Justice for all is being replaced by justice for the few — my group. Higher Education in some places is becoming a sinister indoctrination. Moral standards are being replaced by individual standards. Civilization itself is being tested for survival by some bad choices. And God at the center of all that matters is becoming humanity at the center of all that matters. And we could go on! So what are we really saying when we pray, “God Bless America?”

First, we are owning a personal request! We are acknowledging God as the Creator and Sustainer of all life — including our own. By acknowledging God to do something, we recognize our own limitations and desperate need for supernatural intervention. We are confessing that we are not sufficient alone to handle our liberty and the evil that is within and around us. Recently, I’ve been in conversation with two men that I admire and respect. 

Both times we were talking about something else when these two men on different occasions brought up their concerns about the condition of our nation. One said, “I am deeply troubled about the direction of our country and the way we are moving away from God in our society.” And those men are not alone.

Second, we are invoking a divine blessing! But we need to be careful when we pray “God Bless America” because that blessing most likely means living differently. A French historian once asked, “James Russel Lowell how long the American Republic would endure. Lowell replied that “it would last as long as the ideas of the people who founded it continued dominant.”

Third, we are seeking something that transcends ourselves! In Genesis 18, we read of a conversation between Abraham and God concerning the righteous who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. In that conversation, God promises Abraham that if ten righteous people can be found he will spare the pending punishment. 

Here’s the lesson for us! To be sure, there will always be evil among us, but the grace of God allows a small group of us to ask his blessing for all of us. The key is the small group — how we relate to God and how we react to our fellow human beings. Indeed “God Bless America” is so much more than a song. It is the very lifeblood of our nation and hope.