“One nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”
The original Pledge of Allegiance was by Francis Bellamy in August 1892 and published the following month. Its words inspiring, aspirational, yet for so many those same words are a far and painful cry from daily reality, emphasized in recent days arising from the horrible death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And should we be tempted to declare the issue an America issue, let each of us consider our own country and perhaps even our own backyard. Right here in our hometown, the former Mohawk Institute building is part of a vivid reminder of what has been called ‘Canada’s Shame’, the Residential School system. We have our issues, too.
So, is the idea of One United God-fearing nation with each citizen treated justly and fairly simply a dream? It is the very society Jesus Christ came to promote, and he well understood the struggle necessary to achieve it.
He understood the abuse of power. He was born into an Israel nation that was occupied and abused by Roman authorities who were quick to inflict their will on the people.
He was a victim of prejudice. Even his fellow countrymen dismissed him simply because of where he came from. (John 1:46)
Yet his work was to embrace and befriend people from all walks of life, reaching across prejudices and favoritism to do so. Nobody was beyond the reach of Jesus; he would meet with anyone willing. (Luke 15:2; Matthew 9:10-13)
People from the region of Samaria were, in Bible times, despised and considered inferior to those Jews from Judea. Jesus, himself a Jew, deliberately went out his way just so he could meet the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-14) and spread his message to her. Nobody was inferior in the eyes of Jesus.
Jesus was an advocate for fairness. When he saw advantages being taken by businessmen in the Jerusalem Temple, he became angry and famously overturned their tables, driving them out of the Temple area. (Matthew 21:12-13)
Jesus’ heartfelt desire was for unity. He taught us that to love our neighbour is of the utmost importance, regardless of who they may be (Mark 12:31). Hours before he would endure physical pain and be hung on a cross, Jesus was in mental pain as he contemplated what was to come. He prayed that night that if the cross could be avoided it would be so, and also that his followers both then and in the future “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:21). Incidentally, that’s why our YouTube and Soundcloud channels are called ‘theymaybeone’.
But most importantly, Jesus’ teachings rejected the notion of privilege or favouritism and stressed that all people are equal. His lifework was to make a way for all people, regardless of skin colour, nationality, or other background factors. He knew that we all are imperfect creatures (Romans 3:23-24) and in need of a saviour. By giving his own life on a cross, he provided that way for all people to enter into the security of a place in heaven where the perfect reality of one nation, indivisible under God, with liberty and justice for all will be lived.
While there’s much that needs to be done and that we all can do to address the imbalances experienced by so many, but the greater prospect is to know that when we come to Jesus as our Saviour then we know one day when in heaven, perfect equality, liberty and harmony will be experienced!
The perfect expression of those lines from the pledge of allegiance will not likely be realized here on earth, despite our best efforts. However, we can get closer to that goal when we follow another motto outlined in God’s Word where we are told what God requires of each of us.
“And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
How much better would our communities, countries and world be if we were to each do exactly that?