The State of the Union is ...
Once a year, the President of the United States addresses the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, a joint session of Congress, the Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and most importantly, the American people, to report on the State of the Union. If you like your history, then this is always an exciting event. Why? Because when you stop to consider this speech, you realize this is a speech every president has delivered dating back to 1790 when George Washington addressed the state of the union. And it has continued ever since. In a sense, the State of the Union address is a bedrock of American political tradition.
It was at the State of the Union address in 1823 where James Monroe introduced his opinion on foreign policy (later to be referred to as the famous Monroe Doctrine). It was in 1862 where Abraham Lincoln referred to the “fiery trial of the Civil War", which he delivered shortly after announcing the Emancipation Proclamation. And it was at the State of the Union where LBJ declared the famous “war on poverty”; where Ford strikingly declared the “State of the Union is not good”, and where Bush coined the term “axis of evil” post the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (delivered in 1964, 1975, and 2002, respectively).*
The State of the Union address represents a stamp in history, and it records where the country resided at a particular time. If you’re a history buff, you tend to have a special level of respect for the State of the Union address; respecting its size, magnitude, and bravado. And while I am not the President of the United States, nor will I ever hold that office, I am a child of the Most High God. So I feel it incumbent upon me to speak my opinion on the State of our Union, for what it’s worth…
I don’t speak on this topic because I perceive to know it all, or that I am all that. I do not claim to be, nor do I claim to have all the answers or to be an expert on diverse political opinions. The fact is I am nothing without Him! He is my opinion, and so is His word. He is my all in all, and it is by His grace and mercy that I amount to anything. I can’t do anything without Him, nor do I want to. And I will never be anyone special, nor do I want to be. Nor is my opinion on this matter more important than any other man or woman. All I want is to serve my King and love people along the way, and represent Him in everything I do. Do I fail and fall short? Absolutely, I do. Every day I make mistakes, just like our Founding Fathers, just like our President, and just like you. There’s only been one perfect person and neither of us are Him. God loves us all, and desires a relationship with us all. It doesn’t matter our age, size, sex, race, or ethnicity. "If God is for us, then who can be against us?"(Romans 8:31)
Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let’s discuss the State of our Union. After all, lest we forget, it is our union because we are the United States of America - every person in this nation makes up America. Even though these days it really seems like we are more divided than united. Why is that you may ask? Maybe because we keep pushing God out of the equation. It seems He is no longer a variable in our society. As a result: chaos. Take a look at the book of Judges as one of many Biblical examples.
If I can beckon back to President Gerald Ford, I’d argue his perception in 1975 is not too far off from where we are today. I’d argue that the State of our Union today is not very good. Better said, the state of our Christian union is not good. That’s right. I said Christian union. We may not be a Christian nation based on current laws; maybe not in Congressional representation. But I still believe that deep down tucked away her people are a people that love the Lord. It is dark out there today, no doubt about it. But I think a good chunk of Americans still have a hunger to know our Creator. I just think maybe we’ve lost our way in the midst of the chaos, the uncertainty, the division, the broad stroke of opinions that cloud our judgement from those in power and positions of the authority, and the propaganda. So I think as time has gone by, we have removed Him as a variable.
Which is why these polls I recently stumbled upon is even more concerning and confusing. According to a Gallup poll that was conducted a few years back, church attendance is still important to many Americans - around 42% average nationally. When you break it down by states and regions you find that the West, and New England are generally much lower in ranking the level of importance compared to say the South and Utah in the West. Mississippi brings in the highest percentage at 63% of its population attending church weekly or almost every week.**
It is worth mentioning, however, that church attendance by itself does not equate a passionate, on fire, relationship with Jesus, and ultimately that is what we all need. Just because you go to church does not mean that you are on fire for God. And just because you don’t go to church does not necessarily mean you are not a God loving person. Though according to Hebrews 10:25, we are advised by the writer “to not forsake the assembling together.” Church attendance is important, but a relationship with Jesus is even more important. And I believe this is our answer to maintaining a strong union. In addition to the statistics mentioned above, a more recent survey conducted in 2017 states that about 3/4 of the nation still identifies with the Christian faith, and Christianity still makes up about 49% of the religious group in America with Catholicism coming in second place.***
Despite the propaganda that is often fed to us by the entertainment industry, despite the general “vibe” you feel in our culture today, I believe that deep down in her roots, America is still one nation, under God, and as believers we should hold fast to maintain that. Our freedom for religious rights has been fought to maintain in many wars. Many brave men and women have given their lives for this freedom. We cannot lose it. We cannot acquiesce to a new progressive normality. Many of our progressive friends want to take away these religious rights in the name of progressive “freedom”, whatever that means. It’s really not freedom though if you think about it. It’s government control, and I'm not defending or accusing the Democratic or Republican party. Both sides are messed up if you ask me. But government is not the answer to our problems. Jesus is.
Even President Bill Clinton in his State of the Union address in 1996 said that, “the era of big government is over”.* Yet the desire for big government continues to push itself against on the people, and the bigger the government oftentimes the more problems we have in regards to our religious liberties. Government is needed, no doubt, and please understand when I use the terms mentioned above I am not speaking from a political standpoint, but from a religious freedom standpoint. More specifically, the Christian liberties and freedoms we have probably taken for granted throughout our lifetime.
This secular religious political agenda counteracts what this nation was founded upon, and what many have fought so hard for throughout the life of America. Do we have areas we need to improve upon as a nation? Of course we do. Do we have reform that should take place to ensure liberty and justice for all? Absolutely. But we cannot forsake the Word of God, nor can we forsake our Creator in this endeavor. At least, that is this Christians’ opinion. Many believe you cannot legislate morality. But we can govern ethically and morally under the statue and the virtues of the word of God. Pushing God out will only create more problems. Look around for proof. God wants to be accepted and pursued, not tolerated and neglected.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Hear that? Heal their land. He is the answer to our nations' deep rooted issues. But there’s got to be something we have to do first in order to achieve this healing. We must humble ourselves. We must pray and seek Him, and turn from our wicked ways. We can’t tear each other down. We’ve got to build each other up. All people must be treated equally, and all people deserve to be loved and held up by their neighbor. If we want to be progressive, let’s progress together in this endeavor. Not revert away from God - we’ve seen this only causes more problems. Love the person; hate the sin. After all, that's what Jesus did.
If the statistics I quoted earlier are true, then rise up prayer warriors and pray for this great nation once again. Many believe this nation is not great anymore. I disagree. Again, do we need to improve and grow? Yes, we do. Do we have deep rooted issues that must be resolved? Yes, we do. But we’ve got to remember to love our neighbors. No matter their age, sex, race, or ethnicity. We all bleed red. And so did Jesus, and it’s His blood that still saves us. We must remember to hold our tongue and not be quick to anger. Remember to be forgiving just as Christ has forgiven us. Recognize that we are not perfect people. Speak in humility. Speak in love. Represent the cause of Christ and word of God through this love; His love.
No one wants to feel like the person they’re talking to thinks they walk on water because we don’t. I don’t; no one does. We’re all sinners. We’re all imperfect, but we can all be saved by the one who is sinless, and the one who is perfect. So let’s spread the word of God through His love, and let our light shine once more. What is our light? Nothing within ourselves that’s for sure. Our light within us is the light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So what is the State of our Union? Well, right now I’d say the state of our union is not so great. But it can be. It can be a strong union by remembering that we are that republic by which it stands as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We can’t become that nation again if we try to stand over God. It simply won’t work. To be progressive, to be successful, to have liberty and justice for all, to be the leader of the world, we must be the nation that stands under God loving our neighbors as ourselves, and spreading the Good News of the Gospel in love to all tribes, nations, creeds, and races. Only then would I consider the State of our Union to be strong.