How would you define a model citizen of the United States? How would such a person live? What would a good citizen do and value?
Theodore Roosevelt says this: “The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to carry his weight.”
George W. Bush stated his values by saying: “Throughout our history, our most honorable heroes practiced the values of hard work and honesty, commitment to excellence and courage, and self-discipline and perseverance.”
And Marisa Wambolt, a sixth grader, declares: “In my opinion, good citizenship in the community means to pick up trash or go to Girl Scouts like I do…. [After several other suggestions] These are ways that you can save the earth, the only one with Girl Scout cookies.”
I love her focus. We must live in such a way as to preserve Thin Mints! There may well be life on other planets in our universe. The Bible is silent on the matter. But even if there are other civilizations, our planet may still be unique: the only one with Girl Scout cookies.
And know this. We certainly are the only one with Marisa Wambolt. She is of infinite worth, a child of God with meaning and purpose, born in God’s image. A good citizen would clearly want to preserve a planet with Marisa on it.
So her definition of good citizenship helps me add to mine. A model citizen of the United States would live in such a way as to preserve what’s truly important.
And what I offer to the discussion as of utmost importance is not Girl Scout cookies but Marisa Wambolt herself. Add to Marisa other sixth graders and other children. And to the importance of our children let’s add the importance of their parents and grandparents, and in fact the importance of all people, young and old, even those not citizens of our country.
A good country is not defined by its gross national product or any of its possessions. People define a country and relationships trump material goods. This is why the Bible warns repeatedly of the dangers of loving money and offers page after page of advice on loving people and serving them. It teaches us to give generously and show respect to everyone. It calls us to be good examples without becoming conceited. It urges us, as far as is possible on our part, to live at peace with others.
Our good country is made and kept that way by people who value people.
And Christians have the added incentive of knowing how they treat others determines whether or not they are good citizens of God’s country. Jesus says “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40.
So be a model citizen. And eat Girl Scout cookies.
Rick Cupp is the minister at Kenai Fellowship. Sunday Bible classes are at 10 a.m. Coffee is at 10:45 a.m. and worship is at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday meal is at 6:15 p.m. with worship at 7 p.m.