“Liberty and Justice for All”

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America”

I confess, it still stirs my heart to recite these words. I love the ritual too, the sing-song way we say it together, the hand held over the heart, standing at attention, looking up together at the flag.

But it’s more than the ritual. It’s the actual words – “pledge allegiance,” “one nation under God,” “liberty and justice for all” – These words stir me too. Yes, like everyone, I am aware that the United States is not always perfect. We do not always live up to these words. But to proclaim these ideals without cynicism, to say we believe in it and pledge allegiance to it is a step toward making those ideals as real as we human beings can.

So many have surrendered these ideals, given up hope and pronounced them dead. I don’t have confidence we human beings can live up to noble ideals like liberty and justice. Some individuals get close, perhaps, but eventually we all fail. Yet I still have not given up hope because the best human aspirations come from the heart of the God who created us. And God is still working to move us toward justice and truth and liberty. God has not given up on humankind, so I will not give up either.

These three very American virtues of truth, justice and liberty stand rooted in the three biblical virtues of faith, hope and love. The cynics bombard us with despair and fear. God floods us with light and hope. In every human society, even in America, these ideals will remain incomplete. But “under God” we will find real “liberty and justice for all.”

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss

Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church

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