Every year at this time I find myself experiencing concern at what I see around me. This year I’m going to post this and invite all manner of judgment and condemnation onto myselfJ. I do this with fear and trembling, because I know how emotional an issue this is. But I also believe it is important that those of us who belong to the King understand what that means in terms of our relationship with the world. It is not my intent to begin arguments or even debate—and certainly not to offend anyone. However, we who belong to the King must be honest with ourselves and others.
I live in the U.S.A. Here we celebrate Independence Day as our greatest national holiday. But I am not American. I am Christian. Those aren’t the same thing. In the end, we must choose to be Americans who are Christians, or Christians who happen to be in America. One is real, the other is not. One is eternal, the other is not. And many of us find this confusing.
As I reflect on the celebration of Independence Day I have to wonder if this isn’t one of the reasons those of us who call Jesus Lord and King are so easily confused—so easily enticed to the priorities of the world instead of the priorities of the Kingdom. We like to think about Independence Day as the beginning of a great nation—many even say a “Christian” nation.
If we accept this, we inevitably find ourselves with a distorted view of “Christian”. The reason is simple. Revolution is condemned in scripture as sin. (1 Samuel 15:23; Proverbs 17:11; Romans 13:1) Despite the patriotism of many Christians, the fact is there is no reason to believe these passages did not apply to the American Revolution (we seem to forget that the regime in power when Paul wrote that we are to submit to the governing authorities in Romans 13:1 was the Roman Empire—a brutal and anti-Christian regime that surpasses colonial England in every evil imaginable). So, in the end, there is no Biblical support for the idea that the American Revolution was anything but sin.
But the revolution is over. It’s done. So the problem isn’t whether or not “we” should have rebelled. “We” did. The problem is that having done so, and continually celebrating this rebellion, we make it easy to believe that “American” is “Christian” and that American behavior, opinions and priorities must automatically be God’s will. How else do we understand the attitude that allowed slavery? How do we understand the attitude that allowed genocide? How else do we explain the attitude today that entices so many who say they are Christian to accept the values of America today (acceptance of sin as good, condemnation of those calling for repentance as “intolerant”, and an increasingly callous attitude toward life itself among others). I don’t hate America, and this isn’t “America bashing”, it is simply an honest look at our history and its effect on our attitude today.
It is popular for Christians in America to call one another to prayer and ask for God to restore this country. But do we really want it to be “restored”, given the foundation of sin on which we were built? Perhaps it would be better if we prayed for God to restore us to His country—attitudes, loyalties and all—to make us “patriots” of the Kingdom of God—to give us wisdom and courage to represent His Kingdom to the people of this foreign land.