America, though often derided and hated — perhaps not explicitly, but silently — by the left, oftentimes experiences the opposite problem from its most ardent admirers, the conservatives. In its admiration, perhaps condensed most perfectly into what is known as the American Dream, men elevate a nation into idolization because the nation elevates men. One does not have to look far to see that in American literature, in the movies, in even the world of politics, Americans believe on a sincere level that in the United States, opportunity can be had by all who truly seek it, and that for this reason it is worthy of glorification.
I am not writing this article to say the opposite is true, however, that somehow, America was never a place in which the poor could through innovation and labor become wealthy, that it is not and has never been a land of opportunity. But it must be made known that long before America existed, the dream had already been established elsewhere; and perhaps not even elsewhere, but rather within a person; and through that person, in a religion.
It is in the Proverbs and in the Law that one finds the order and justice and character by which wealth is accrued, proclaiming opportunity not to those already well situated, but to the wise and honorable. It is in the Scriptures that man sees the faithful wandering nomad exalted, becoming history’s greatest patriarch. It is by the hand of God that one sees the eleventh of twelve brothers — the weakest — raised above the rest, eventually becoming second only to Pharaoh and preserving his entire people. It is in the Bible that one reads of the outcast Moabitess becoming the ancestor of King David and the Messiah, the young shepherd who slays the giant and becomes king of Israel, the coward from the weakest Israelite clan who delivers his nation from its oppressors, the fig pruner called to become a prophet, the tax collectors and fishermen who become apostles, and the poorest of carpenters who sits at the right hand of God.
Far beyond the glories of the American Dream, Christianity is not a nation of elevation, but the religion of elevation. It is not confined within borders, defended with physical arms, or subject to recessions; it is not subject to decay and decline; it does not find itself under excellent administration one day, and the next under poor. It is a kingdom for which its citizens wait in temporary exile, establishing the effects of dominion wherever it has truly transformed their hearts, building Zion slowly as a glacier moves, a convert at a time. It raises the dead, gives hope to the hopeless, and turns sinners into saints.
“Blessed are the meek,” says He of those who rely not upon themselves, but upon Him for their strength, “for they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are the poor in Spirit,” says He, “for they shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven,” and “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” says He, “for they shall be filled.” This hunger, this spiritual and temporal poverty, leads men to reliance upon the Almighty, and it is the Almighty who establishes men in righteousness, and it is righteousness which establishes true prosperity. And should one of God’s elect not be endowed with material riches, he will be none the poorer. He will have a promise of eternity, the presence of the Holy Spirit, a regenerate heart, and a camaraderie within a community which surpasses earthly expectations. If honor and grace and peace from God Himself will not satisfy a man, then he will certainly never be satisfied with material gain, should he come to own the earth and all that is in it.
Should it be said by Americans that America herself grants men their liberty and prosperity, they would be woefully wrong, for that would be confusing the end for the means. It is God Himself who establishes nations, who smiles upon His children, bringing grace to the humble, righteousness to the sinner, and wealth to the poor. For what is liberty, if not within the laws of nature and of nature’s God? What is law without unalienable rights? From where do these come if not from above?
So let Americans not look to America for their dream, but let them look to their Savior, the God-man Jesus Christ. He will establish America in goodness, as the song goes:
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.
In Him will they find Law. In Him will they find liberty. In Him will they find righteousness. And should a nation be so graced by His children – not those proclaiming Him in word only, but those whose hearts have been transformed by His Holy Spirit — it is then that it will truly be established in opportunity. History declares such of our ancestors, from the first Puritans forward, and should we be so pious as they, then God’s providence will smile upon us until we cannot even wish for more. Christ must be exalted, and then He will exalt. This truth is recorded in the annals of history, and it is the future of all who not only call themselves such, but are truly Christian.
Merry Christmas, and God bless America.