If one of my sons died as a soldier, I would ask the question on the heart of every Gold Star Family. For what exactly did my son die? For his country? And what exactly is the U.S.A., given it’s not a continent or ethnic group? America is an idea. The founders embarked on The Great Experiment to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” “It’s a republic,” Benjamin Franklin pronounced, “if you can keep it.”

Are we keeping it? Are we avoiding the bewitching ideas that crumbled the great powers of the past? Is America conserving its unalienable rights? Cultural commentator Os Guiness thinks not. “America has succumbed to the seductions and illusions of its unprecedented power and (post-WWII) prosperity. America has come to mistake freedom with the pursuit of unappeased appetites, it has trifled with its ideals and bartered truth for power, heroism for celebrity, goodness and beauty for entertainment and diversion, self-discipline for comfort and convenience, and self-reliance for welfare and dependency. In the process America has…lost its soul and inner strength.” A grieving family needs to know their hero sacrificed for something far better than that. We join them in hoping and praying for America to merit their sacrifice.

This is not about “Christian nationalism,” however it is defined. This is, however, to point believers to the path forward, especially those who may have allowed their emotional investment in the politics of the moment to obscure their mindset and unique calling as Christians. I borrow from Rod Dreher, who writes a challenge for such a time as this to the church in the West. “We have to return to the roots of our faith, both in thought and in practice. We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West… change our lives, and our approach to life, in radical ways. In short, we are going to have to be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs.” We “are the light of the world,” Jesus said, and in a secondary way, that is good for America. “A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt. 5:14).

We share in the purpose of Jesus. “For this I have come into the world,” he said, “to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). We stand on unchanging truths about what it means to be created in God’s image and to be re-created in Christ. We embrace Jesus’ great commands to love God and neighbor. We carry out His great commission to make disciples of all the nations. Do those things in everyday moments, and you honor God. You also honor the memory of those who died for our religious liberty. And you remind America of the ideas from whence it came.