As Christians living in America, many of us love our nation.
But I worry that perhaps, we love it too much.
At the time of this podcast, it is the 4th of July here in America. Many of us will celebrate by eating a lot of burgers, beans, brats, and everything in between. We will blow up colorful bombs in the sky, wave flags, sing patriotic songs, and many other things as we celebrate our nations’ birthday. Our patriotic feelings will be at its zenith.
We love America so much that we have attempted to wed the beliefs and values of America and Christianity together, as if they are one in the same. And in this vein, some among us would be so bold as to proclaim that America is a “Christian Nation.”
Many of us never question these things. And that bothers me.
Far Too American
I’m reminded of a thing the late Art Katz used to say in his sermons: “You are far too American.” Art Katz was something of a prophetic voice for our generation, and I think we need to give his word on this matter a serious consideration.
I think there is a very real sense that our identity as Americans has perverted our Christianity. It’s perverted our way of thinking. It’s perverted our walk as Christians. As a result of wedding Christianity and America together, we have blindly baptized our nations’ art, music, movies, commerce, politics, and wars in the name of Jesus Christ.
And of this, we need to repent.
No wonder our churches resemble McDonald’s franchises. No wonder our pastors model our churches after empires of corporate America, as they make their own religious empires and monolithic organizations, instead of forming a quiet and humble communities of Christ followers that simply gather to worship Jesus, make disciples, and help others grow in their Christian faith.
No wonder we have ceased to question America and all her wars. We’ve baptized nuclear bombs being dropped on Japan, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and everything in between.
And to question such things will result in many shouting you down and calling you a snowflake.
Yes, America has some great things about her. Some exceptional qualities even. But we are not unique in this. According to Isaiah 60:5 and other similar passages, the prophets speak of how one day the “wealth of the nations” will be brought as tribute to God and His kingdom.
America Isn’t The Kingdom of God
But America should not be confused with the kingdom of God, and as Christians we should not treat her as the Old Testament nation of Israel. We have no manifest destiny. God hasn’t ordained us for some unique and special purpose. Jesus isn’t an American.
Instead as Christians we should realize that the only Christian nation in this world is the church of Jesus Christ. It’s as the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9 that we as a church are a “holy nation.”
And since we alone are a holy nation in this world, we should be very careful about attaching our identities to America, and adopting its’ beliefs and values. The same goes for whatever other nations we as Christians might find ourselves in.
Indeed, as Christians we should keep our patriot feelings in check. We should be careful not to get caught up into any sense of nationalism. And instead of blindly reciting the pledge of allegiance, singing the national anthem, and standing before a flag with our hands over our hearts, we should question whether such behavior is even appropriate to begin with.
Indeed, instead of taking a stand for America and her values, we might find ourselves taking the place of a protester against her evils, as we take a stand for Jesus instead.
As Christians, the cross of Jesus Christ is our only flag, it alone is our song, and it alone is our anthem.