Hello, Miss America

America

“There she is, Miss America
There she is, your ideal…”

Don’t we all just love our dear America? I am incredibly thankful for our beautiful country. She is progressive and strong, living up to her reputation as the land of the free and the home of the brave. However, I think we can all agree that it’s a stretch to call her ideal. In fact, it would be much more accurate to call her a work in progress.

A few hundred years ago, when she was still making a name for herself, America made a claim that she has yet to fulfill a promise if you will. She said, very clearly, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Today, if we were to say that America has fully delivered on these claims, we may as well comment on how delicious the bubblegum tea is while engaging in conversation with Mr. Bear and Mrs. Bunny and enjoying snozberry scones at a fantasy tea-party.

The reality is, all men are not counted as equal, both within America’s borders and outside of them. Miss America has been getting by on her good looks too often, and we’ve let her get careless on some extremely important issues. Our Creator has endowed us with unalienable rights, and I believe God is now calling America to pay up on her claims – that all men and women be valued as equals.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

I can relate to America. I have come to realize that God often places me in situations (or allows me to put myself in situations) where I have to really live out the values that I claim. As many of you know, one of my greatest values, something that I hold near and dear to my heart, is reconciliation. And let me tell you, I can’t count the number of times I have caught myself in a gut-wrenching predicament that has challenged that very value. It’s almost like God opens back heaven and says, “So, are you sure you want to reconcile?” These are the moments when I have to fight for my values, when it doesn’t come swiftly or easily, when it all goes down swinging.

But with God, I can wrestle it to the ground and claim it as my own once more. I have fought for reconciliation, I fight for reconciliation, and I have made the commitment to pursue it all of my days. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who disagrees with you? No one! But I seek the bigger picture, so when I harness the image of the future, I press on toward it.

God is calling America to do the same. She says she values all men as equals, but too often she allows the issue to take a round, and then another, and then another until, when the bell dings, we aren’t sure what call the judges will make. She stands, not black and blue from attempting to recover her values, but nearly untouched and barely sweating. This is something we can no longer let her get away with.

America, your dirty laundry is airing out in the middle of the streets and your system is exposed and it is just as crooked as we all feared. Individuals placed on the balance of America’s justice scale do not weigh the same. America did not bestow proper value to Philando Castile’s life. He was weighed and she determined he was less than.

America, if you granted my life a value, what would it be? As a black man, am I as valuable as a white man?

God made us in His image. Therefore, we are image bearers – imago Dei. When we do not consider another human to be in equal standing or worthy of equal rights as us, we strip them of the very thing that makes them human. We call common what God Himself has declared holy. This is a grave mistake.

We can not afford to continue like this. It is time to stop blaming politics, GMOs, global warming, national debt, the public school system, or whatever else takes the responsibility off of Miss America. If we love her as much as we say we do, we need to show her that the people who need her to be all of what she promised to be are hurting. God is calling America to stand by her vow.

We need to take personal responsibility to see this through, and it begins by making the decision to build one another up. It starts by ceasing and desisting when you catch yourself stripping another of their identity and dignity as an image bearer of our King – whether they are aware that they bear His image or not! It is our responsibility to turn to our brothers and sisters and remind them of who they are. I can promise that we will not all agree on everything – this would be bland and unproductive. But, we can all hope and strive to build a nation known for her uncanny ability to encourage her people.

Miss America, I am asking you to begin at your oath – I am asking that all will be created equal and that you will not rest satisfied until we are. This will not solve all of your problems, and it will not come quickly, but I believe that you can someday be a woman of your word.

“…And there she is
Walking on air, she is
Finest of the far, she is
There she is – Miss America.”

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