We celebrated the birthday of the United States of America this week. I remember the celebration of the bicentennial in 1976. I was a rising senior in high school. Today, I suppose you could say that I’m still a rising senior.
Please allow me to offer thanks to those of you who have served our country. I do consider it to be the greatest place to live on earth. We have so many freedoms and opportunities that we take for granted.
And yet, ours is not a perfect place. Consider this: Some of the very folks who wrote and signed documents that declared that all people are created equal also owned other human beings.
There was a paradox involved. They said one thing, and they clearly believed it. But they didn’t always live by those principles.
Paul spoke of a similar thing in Romans 7. Most of us would agree that the apostle was a great man. He was a preacher, a church planter, a missionary and a man who provided us with a great example to follow.
Still, as Paul discussed his own life he said these words. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Here’s what I think Paul is saying: Even though he was a committed follower of Jesus, there were times in his life when he simply did the wrong thing. He still committed sin. And it frustrated him, as it should have.
There are times when people refer to Christians as hypocrites, and there are times when the descriptor fits. We do fail. We do behave in ways that we should not. We do choose the wrong path.
That is why the Gospel matters so much. God has offered salvation and forgiveness to us that is free. We cannot earn it. We simply trust in him.
It is true that our forefathers did not perfectly follow the principles they put forth in our founding documents. To this day we do not live by them as we should.
And the same thing is true in our faith. We do not perfectly follow biblical teaching.
Still, God is good. He forgives and he guides. We can trust him.