One nation? Under God? Indivisible?
By Joseph Stringer
“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” —Ronald Reagan
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
I have had great difficulty writing this article. I began by quoting from our Pledge of Allegiance believing it an accepted fact. I now realize that those words we recite are not so, but are an aspiration: a hope we feel should be true but is simply not so. The statement I first wrote has been punctuated by question marks. We need desperately to focus upon those question marks, for only in answering the failure of that vision will we find the true answer to our divisions.
Though we truly are “a shining city on a hill” and the hope of the secular world — as the millions who seek to come here attest — I will state that we are not “one nation, under God, indivisible.” That title is an ideal we seek to fulfill but have fallen far short of achieving.
In our zeal for America, we have forgotten that our nation is just like we are: a mixture of both good and evil, capable of great grace and of terrible sin. We all seek to find the greatest good of America in our own worldly eyes, but our vision falls short and the reality of our nation matches the shallowness of our sight. One side sees only the goodness of America, being willfully blind to her faults. The other claims she is corrupt and evil at her very heart, seeking to remake her into some new vision of … they know not what.
What, then, are we?
Today, we are barely “one nation.” If we take an honest look at our history, we will see that we have always been divided in many ways. Furthermore our divisions are not healing but are growing worse daily. We are more alienated from one another today than at any time since the War Between the States. In addition, our society creates and focuses on more and more division. We have boxed and labeled people, placing them in categories based on the shallowest of criteria: the color of their skin, varieties of sexual preference, wealth or influence, political focus and more.
We are certainly no longer “under God,” for we have abandoned Him in our quest for wealth, comfort, status and an individual “freedom” that is license to do anything we please. Fewer Americans are dedicated Christians. The growth of the “nones”— who believe in nothing — defines the future pathway we’ve chosen. Our education system has abandoned our history, art and philosophy to scoffers who have no real concept of truth or beauty. Our entertainment is a wasteland. Our children grow up in fewer real families. Our communities are emptied of brotherhood. Having lost our connection to God, we have thrown away all other connectedness
to anyone and anything of real value.
We truly cannot claim we are “indivisible.” The left spent the last four years decrying Donald Trump’s presidency as illegitimate and seeking every means to destroy him. Their actions were little different with either of the Bush presidencies. The right took their shots at Presidents Obama and Clinton. They are lining up now for President Biden. Neither party focuses upon the issues but continues ad hominem attacks against their opponent.
Where do we find truth? Each side listens to its own “news,” which has not been objective for years but continues simply to be used as propaganda to reinforce its own views. The opposing side is painted as evil, ignorant and seeking the destruction of America. We have lost any common ground and live in constant alienation from one another.
If we are no longer “one nation, under God, indivisible,” what hope do we have for our future? I submit that our answer lies in seeking, as best we can, to fulfill the center statement — “under God.” Without the center, the two side statements cannot hold true. Our real divisions will increase exponentially until our alienation destroys the one nation we all cherish.
We have sought to serve so many other gods: America itself, politics, culture, sports, wealth, sex, self-fulfillment in all ways. The time has come for each of us to choose. “Choose this day whom you will serve …” We have no other recourse, no means of saving ourselves from our own world-weariness. Only in turning back to the Lord will we find the common ground Paul referenced in his letter to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We are all one in Christ Jesus. We are one because we were made in God’s image. We are one because He loves us so much that He came down to save us from ourselves. We are one because God’s love overshadows all difference, covers all sin, lifts us up to become greater than we could ever be on our own. God’s love washes away all our divisions. We are one.
This is the core vision that inspired our nation throughout most of our history. Though we constantly fell short of its fruition, we still sought to make it true — to make us “one nation, under God, indivisible.” We Christians still seek to make Jesus Christ the focus of our lives, our families, our communities and our nation. We still have hope for this nation, but our hope must be in Christ, not in our politicians, our government or even ourselves. I believe we will find our true vision only in a revival of our dedication to the Lord. Let us then follow Abraham Lincoln’s call of rededication from his Gettysburg Address:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Joseph Stringer writes and speaks on Christian issues in culture in the hope that we may realize transformation in our lives. Watch for his upcoming book, “God Came Down.” He prays that all who hear him or read his works might see through them to the One who has chosen us for life. Check out his blog at www.chosen4life.org.