Saturday, January 07, 2006

Separating God and Country

I posted a couple of days ago about the way the minds of so many American Christians link patriotism and Christianity as almost one and the same. This was an extension of my July 4th post about the American flag's presence on church property. Anyway, in the comments section, Bob of gratitude and hoopla pointed out,
I hear all the time from people who have mistakenly equated Christianity with Americanism. It sounds foolish to our ears, perhaps, but where did they get that idea? Did we give it to them? I think the answer is yes, unfortunately. We have to work at correcting this misunderstanding, for we bear that responsibility. I thank God for my country, but it does seem that we American evangelicals are far too "at home in this world".
Now I can argue that personally, I didn't give these people that idea, but I realize that Bob was using "we" to refer to Christians in general, especially teachers and preachers. But the responsibility to correcting this misunderstanding falls on me and upon all who are reading this. So how do we do it? How do we get people to see that Christian does not equal American? Here are a few ideas:

(1) Get the American flag off of church property. We don't have to fly flags, right? And flying the American (or Canadian or whichever) flag forces us to put Christianity and patriotism on the same level, or if both flags are on one pole it's the Christian flag which is pushed to the bottom. You can't tell me that the symbolism isn't noticed at one level or another by the general population. I went off on that topic here.

(2) Preach about Christian sacrifice. What should we be willing to give up for Christ? Think about this: Almost every church in America has people sitting in the pews who would gladly lay down their lives for their country, but who wouldn't in a million years give up their lives for God. You know it's true.

(3) Along with that idea, preach about the advantages of being a Christian. Those who would die for their country realize that they want the advantages of being an American to be available to others. They will give their lives so that others can continue to enjoy those benefits. But do most people understand the advantages of being a Christian? Aside from being "fire insurance", what about the value here on earth -- peace which passes all understanding, hope, strength, faith, etc. Does the average person in the good ol' U. S. A. know about these things? I'd bet not. Perhaps the idea of Christian sacrifice wouldn't seem so foreign if we realized the benefits we're already using.

(4) Teach priorities. Do not denegrate this country. It's a great country. I'm sure Canada is fantastic too. But this is not our home. Our first priority is to our Creator and Savior.

(5) Don't allow anyone to inject "America" into the Scriptures. I've heard so many people interpret 2 Chronicles 7:14 as applying to the United States, yet in context the promise to "heal the land" is for the nation of Israel. Americans are not the "people who are called by my name". Not that we shouldn't humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, but the promise is not for America.

At least those are my ideas. Feel free to argue any of them or suggest more. But a clear teaching of Scripture is needed to give a clear understanding that we are called to be Christians before we consider our home country. I argued in my last post that we are to be Christians before we are doctors or fathers or any other role we fulfill. Being a Christian first makes us better doctors and better fathers and so on. In the same way, making sure Christ is our first priority will make us better citizens, and it will put God solely on the throne as He deserves.

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