As we prepare to celebrate July 4th, our Independence Day, it appears to me that the Founding Fathers of this great country shared two things: they were Christians, and they were farmers. To an alarming degree, many of us have lost touch with both those disciplines.
Ben Franklin said “There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.” Franklin’s message communicates both the magnificence and sovereignty of God and the inherent virtue of agriculture. Both those shining lights, I fear, have faded in contemporary eyes.
In our headlong rush to become urbane and enlightened, Americans have universally eschewed traditional values, considering them outdated. We pay homage to the framers of the Constitution, but do we still consider the document relevant? Most households have a Bible, but when’s the last time it was actually studied? We desperately need to return to both these repositories of conscience and moral wisdom and embrace them.
In 1782, Thomas Jefferson wrote “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen people, whose breasts He has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example.” Jefferson’s eloquent prose seems foreign to us now, but it is none the less meaningful. There is an inextricable and undeniable parallel between love of God and love of His creation, the land – both our beloved country and the fertile soil from which our bounties spring.
In our celebrations this Independence Day, may we pause in our revelry and reflect on the true significance of this anniversary of the birth of the greatest nation on earth. As we eat together, let us not forget the hands that toil to produce our sustenance. As we celebrate our freedom, let us not forget the brave men who initially secured it for us and the countless lives that have been sacrificed to preserve it. Let us all give thanks to a magnificent and loving God, for “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3) May we strive to return to a point where we can truly say “In God, we trust!”