Ilove America. I really do. I am proud to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. I have been to a number of other countries but none can compare to America (in my humble opinion- sorry to my international readers!). There is nothing wrong with being a Christian and having a sense of national pride.
But there is a problem when you get the two mixed together.
As Christians, we believe that we live in two overlapping realms at once- the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. Our aim is to see God’s Kingdom expand and cover the Kingdom of Man through acts of love, justice, mercy, and grace.
But our primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God. And that Kingdom includes every nation, tribe, ethnicity, faith, creed, color, and tongue. In the Kingdom of God, all of our “tribal distinctives” fall to the wayside. In Christ there is no Slave or Free, Jew or Greek, American or Australian, Black or White, Gay or Straight, Blue Collar or White Collar, Poor or Rich…. All are one in Jesus. That doesn’t mean we loose those defining factors of ourselves, but they become much less important to us. Our common unity and bond is found in the love of God and the reality that we are all his Children created in his image.
Often, Evangelicals find ourselves confused. We intermingle the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of America and soon blur them so closely together that we cannot distinguish one from the other- even though they are fundamentally different. When this happens, we get mixed-images like these:
Now, if you don’t see what’s wrong with these pictures, you may have had your vision of the Kingdoms blurred.
The Church of Jesus Christ has no allegiance to any nation. Not America, Not England, Not Rome, Not Israel. No one. We are a body of people united in common faith to see the world transformed by the Gospel. However, when we as the Church allow national patriotism to enter our churches, we compromise the beauty and mission of Christ. We are not defined by our nation. We are not a national entity. We are not run by the government (and most churches that celebrate Independence Day, by the way, are the ones that complain and fear government invading their churches).
And no, God does not have a special love for America.
Our hope does not rest in our freedom as Americans. Our mission is not to “bring American back to God”. America has never been, in an of itself, “God’s”. We’re not a Christian nation. We are not built on Christianity. And the Church of Jesus Christ should have absolutely nothing to do with patriotism, nationalism, or militarism. And yet, this weekend, thousands of churches are going to be filled with people singing “God Bless America” and waving American Flags. There will be sermons preached about how America is “God’s country” and how we are called to defend our nation against the attacks of the anti-Christ homosexual agenda.
None of this is Christianity.
It’s a false religion that is formed when you mix Christianity and Patriotism. It’s essentially the religion of ancient Rome where the Caesar would be honored as a god. Instead of a person, we honor a nation as a god. But America isn’t what we’re to be defending as Christ followers. We’re not called celebrate our nation. Instead, we are called to cast aside our national affiliations and recognize we are one nation under God– the Body of Christ, which is made up of every nation in on the planet.
When Churches celebrate the fourth of July, they are treading in very unchristian and frankly idolatrous territory. I am not saying we shouldn’t pray for our nation or even offer a word of thanks to God to live in our great country. But when we bring out the flags and play the national anthem in the House of Prayer for All Nations, I am saying that we are doing something really, really wrong.
For in Jesus, a new Kingdom has come, a new nation has been born, and new life has burst forth. THAT is what we should be celebrating this Sunday. Come to think of it, that’s what the Church should be celebrating every Sunday.
BRANDAN ROBERTSON is a blogger, podcaster, aspiring minister, and the dreamer behind the Revangelical Movement. Brandan is a Pastoral Ministry/Theology student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. In 2011, Brandan took to the air waves by creating a radio show, then called The Bridge which transformed into what is today The Revangelical Connection. Though no longer on the radio, this audio/video podcast seeks to connect with Christian leaders from across the spectrum of faith to begin working towards a better Christianity. Brandan is a contributor to Red Letter Christians, Patheos Book Club, The Christian Manifesto, and several other well-read blogs around the net. Brandan is an aspiring author and church planter/pastor. In all of this, his desire is to see the kingdom of God come and the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven, for the glory of Jesus and the good of all of creation. Find out more about Brandan by checking his information site, or stay up to date with his writings on The Revangelical Blog.