Stuck in traffic on Friday, as so many people sought an early beginning to the Fourth of July weekend, I was listening to the radio. One of the commentators mentioned that this is an ideal weekend to consider all the work that still remains, two hundred and forty-one years after the first Independence Day, “in order to form a more perfect union” (as stated in the preamble of the Constitution).

As I sat there, trying very hard to love my neighboring driver, the phrase struck me hard. I’d already been considering how honoring both the freedoms and the responsibilities of being American on the Fourth is an excellent reminder of the freedoms and the responsibilities of being a Christian. But as the phrase continued to resonate, I considered additional responsibilities of the Christian citizen – to create a more perfect union with our Lord and with our neighbor. A union between our beliefs and our action. A union between our hearts and His almighty will.

We are led in the battle for independence from sin and death by our Savior. This mighty Warrior defeats the Enemy not with hatred or ammunition, but with love and mercy. The same love and mercy with which He forgives and inspires us. The same love and mercy He asks us to demonstrate to our neighbors. He asks us to show them how He loves us, so they will put aside their weapons of fear and hatred and take up the flag of faith. There’s no better way to show that love and mercy to others than by fully embracing them as fellow children of God.

As Thomas Jefferson declared on that first Fourth, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Let us remember his words and the Word of God as we celebrate this weekend, and let us pledge to do our part to form a more perfect union with those around us.

“America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.”
Katharine Lee Bates, 1893 and 1904