American Christianity: A Patriotic Religion
This election was a crapshoot. A prideful, greedy jerk VS. a manipulative, lying politician... not much to work with there. Besides the lose-lose ballot, my frustration with the election settles around the fact that our society, Republicans and Democrats, both take these lack-luster candidates and try to convince us that they are without blemish.
The right hails Trump as the savior of the "good old" America, and claims that he will stabilize our ever-shifting country. And the left claims moral superiority for their 40 year politician who is promising equality and unity. These are both facades. Neither party has the secret recipe for the perfect America. I think maybe we all know that, but we feel an immense pressure to go big or go home. Our two parties leave absolutely no room for compromise at this point, pitting average, level-headed Americans against each other.
And now it's in the church. While there have long been political differences in the church that lead to tensions, now the separation or the "this town ain't big enough for the both of us mentality" is becoming more and more evident.
It is dividing and upsetting local churches and even whole denominations. Pastors are preaching politically driven sermons, and people are leaving other churches because their pastor isn't preaching politically driven sermons... it's a mess.
I am not at all saying that at one point in history the church was without fault, but I am definitely saying that cultural politics should be one of the last things that divides the body of Christ. Heretical theology or sinful lifestyles I understand... But the Presidency?
My concern for this topic is mostly stirred by the Christians who consider themselves conservatives. The tunnel vision that right-wingers tend to have around patriotism is ridiculous in light of verses like these:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15-17
We are specifically called to live in this world as pilgrims, as people passing through. But we Americans (mostly conservatives) take an overwhelming amount of pride in our country, despite the centuries of sin that has drenched the soil here in "God's country".
America has never been a Christian country. The writers of every major American document were outrageous moral failures. The land that we now call the United States was literally stolen from the Native Americans, and then turned into profit on the scared backs of African slaves. I am not, IN ANY WAY, advocating for a social justice movement, I resent the socialist attempts to uproot the democracy that we now have, but there is a lie being fed to Americans that we somehow have acquired the favor of God as a nation. It's not true. In the last 243 years of being a country America has called upon itself God's wrath, not His blessing.
I know what you're thinking... "David wasn't perfect, and Israel failed at every turn!" and I would agree! But Israel was not chosen and kept by God because of their amazing morals, or their spectacular government.
By His free will and according to His redemptive plan from before the creation of the world, God decided to work through the lineage of a man named Abraham, promising to bless him and to bless the world through his family, which included not only countless descendants but also the Promised Land. Hundreds of years later the descendants of his grandson Jacob are freed from slavery in Egypt, and have nowhere to go. But God returned to his covenant promises with Abraham and led them to Canaan, their new home. He set up their government, their laws, their social responsibilities, and appointed their leaders, which were all under Him--it was a theocracy.
"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors..." Deuteronomy 7:6-8
It's not the people in the country that make it God's, it's God despite the people in the country that makes it His. In a real way, every nation is God's, seeing that every ruler and authority is placed in power by Him. But only Israel has ever had the specific blessing and keeping of God.
God, in His mercy, chose to establish a covenant between Himself and the nation of Israel. This ancient covenant was not re-established in 1776. While God is still King and still sovereign, His particular governing is no longer with any nation, but is with His entire Kingdom.
Now, I do not want to undermine the fact that we do live in an amazing country. Our religious freedom and social opportunities far outweigh any other governance in the modern world. It is a blessing to live in America, and I wouldn't want to have been born anywhere else. There have been amazing social and scientific strides made in America, and we have so many common grace gifts and so many things to be thankful for. But we are not Israel. We do not have a covenant relationship with the creator as a nation, and if we did resemble Israel in any way, we would be the ungrateful, unrepentant, calf-making, Babylon-bound Israel.
This is hard to hear for a lot of people. For many Americans, our identity is more wound up with our patriotism than we probably realize.
Let's not take our country for granted, but let's make sure that if our country was gone, our faith would remain unshaken.We do not rest our hope upon the Constitution, capitalism, or any other man-made, man-driven ideal. We hope in Christ alone.
God, bless America. Bless us with repentance, and mercy, and a heart for your truth.