America As The City Set On A Hill

"A city upon a hill" is a phrase that appeared in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14 He stated, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid." Jesus emphasized in verse 16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This scripture has been referenced numerous times in American history to inspire Americans and illustrate her uniqueness and responsibilities in the world. John Winthrop in his 1630 sermon "A Model of Christian Charity" referred to their future community (Boston) as becoming a "city upon a hill". This sermon was the basis in American culture that the United States of America is blessed by God as a shining city upon a hill and explains American's exceptionalism. This image has been used a number of times in American politics. The most references were made by President John Kennedy January 9, 1961 and then by President Ronald Reagan in January 1984 and in his January 11, 1989 speech to the nation. This concept of American's exceptionalism tied to God's word is entwined throughout the history of the United States. The Christian religion played a critical role in the development of this country and its underlining principles.

The people involved in the founding and the development of this country believed that God possesses the earth and judges all nations (Joel 3 and Isaiah 66 just to mention a couple of scriptures.) They believed that "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34) They also believed that God said,"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). Our nation has wandered from these principles and instead we reflect what is recorded in Micah 7:2-4, "The good man is perished out of the earth: And there is none upright among men: They all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.  That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.  The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity." Why is that? It is because we the people neither reflect nor seem to believe those concepts taught in the scriptures. We do not hold accountable our officials when they do wrong and are willing to sell our votes for the promise of prosperity.

This nation is moving in the wrong direction. In order for this nation to move once again in the right direction, we as individuals need to set our attitude toward God and make changes as needed. We need to examine and assess our hearts to make sure that we are not as described by Jesus in Matthew 15:8 when He said, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." Next, we need to examine our humility. Which of the two individuals Jesus describes in Luke 18:9-14 are we? Are you the Pharisee or the publican? Finally, we need to truly respect the God who is described in Isaiah 66:1-2, "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Our respect should be on par with those described in Nehemiah 9:3, "And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God." If enough of us do these things and make changes in our lives and practices, then Americans can change and once more become "a City upon a Hill" whose light will shine in a dark world.

 Charles Royal, Decatur AL