“Hey, preacher,” she said with a heavy Costa Rican accent, “I am now officially a U.S. citizen!”

It was last year when the sweet young lady came to me beaming and said that. She and her husband, a man of Mexican descent, are precious members of our church. Her citizenship was years in the making. She and her husband did everything legally and properly, and they absolutely bleed red, white, and blue.

People in church tend to find a spot to sit, and sit there consistently. Our Costa Rican/Mexican red, white, and blue American family sits on the same row as an amazing black gentleman. He just so happens to be one of our deacons, a widower, and a retired member of the United States military. His kids sit wherever all the other kids sit; young people tend to be much less attached to a particular given seat than adults. He and his son and daughter are just as passionately American as the first couple I mentioned.

They are not odd or unusual. Our Lebanese, Polynesian, Puerto Rican, and other variously descended folks all love this country, and all regard it as a precious gift from God. Our church family is a microcosm, I think, of how things ought to be; people who in the words of the great patriotic hymn “more than self, their country love.”

One of the most poignant, heart wrenching passages in the Bible is a psalm that was written during the Jewish captivity in Babylon. Notice how passionately they felt about their land:

Psalm 137:1 — By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? 5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

There was food, clothing, and lodging in Babylon. But those who had been carried away from Israel thought only of the land they wanted to get back to. There was no place on earth more precious to them, no culture more desirable, no society more longed for. God gave them that place, and it was their chief joy.

And it ought to be the exact same for us here in America.

America never has been and never will be perfect nor has any other nation ever been perfect. But I do not even blink when I say that of all the imperfect nations on earth, this one is the best. And if something has to be perfect to deserve our love and loyalty, then not one person ever reading these words deserves to be loved by a spouse, or a child, or a parent, nor does one person reading these words ever deserve any loyalty from anyone either.

This morning I woke up in the house that I chose to live in. I went to work at the job I have chosen to spend my life doing (and yes, I do understand that ministry is a calling, and I have indeed been called to it) and I ate at the places I wanted to eat. I also prepared three Bible messages that I will stand in my church and deliver this Sunday without any fear of retribution from the KGB or anything like it.

I went out and put gas in my SUV with no fear of shortages. I went to the wholesale warehouse and saw mountains of food for sale for very reasonable prices. I came home and turned on the news and found reporters saying what they would without having a script handed to them by a “comrade.” I saw hordes of people from all over trying to get into America, but I saw no one trying to get out.

I have a piece of the Berlin Wall on display in my office. Many among the up and coming generation do not even realize that there was once such a wall, not designed to keep outsiders out, but to keep their own people in. America, because of a jewel called freedom, has never needed anything like that.

Not only do we not have to try and keep people here, we cannot even seem to get rid of them after they have spent months loudly proclaiming that if the election does not go their way, they are moving overseas.

So count me as someone who regards America as a gift from God. For that matter, I feel perfectly confident in saying “count all of my church family in that along with me.” When the fireworks start lighting up the sky in just a few days, there will be tears of joy streaming down the palest cheeks to the darkest cheeks and every shade in between at our place.

God bless America!

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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