July 29, 2010 2 Comments
I have long been frustrated and saddened by the encroachment of American nationalism into Christ’s Church in the United States. It has been my privilege to serve the Lord in several states — where I’ve had the opportunity to worship in many, many churches — and on more occasions than I care to number, I’ve witnessed believers in Christ demonstrating more pride in “their country” than in their Lord. This, despite the fact that Paul tells us in Galatians 6 that the only thing we have to boast about is Christ.
I’ve commented on the various aspects of this on this blog. I’ve written about how we’ve confused patriotism with nationalism. I’ve pointed out that we’ve sworn our loyalty to a man-made, inanimate object and embraced institutionalized theft as our “patriotic duty.” I’ve outlined how we’ve become more interested in our earthly empire than we are in our Lord’s heavenly kingdom and that we are not the first nation in history to do so.
I’ve been told I’m hyper-sensitive on the subject. Perhaps I am. But if I am it’s because I was once the worst offender. I freely admit that I was once an out-and-out idolater and that America was my idol. But God graciously delivered me from my idol. Maybe the reason I so clearly see this kind of idolatry is because God opened my eyes to it in my own life.
In any event, I try not to go looking for the idolatry of America. Which is why, when I first noticed The American Patriot’s Bible on a bookstore shelf, I didn’t pick it up. I suspected it would be just the sort of volume that would blur the line between God’s covenant people (the Church) and the citizens of a temporal, earthly kingdom (America).
I share them with you because I hope you will begin to see that the country we live in is merely the context in which we are to serve Christ. Christians are exiles on this earth. We are members of God’s kingdom, dwelling here only for a period of time until we are called home.
Paul was a Roman citizen and his citizenship was nothing more than a tool provided by God for Paul’s service to Christ. Likewise Christians today should view their earthly residence as nothing more than their God-appointed mission field. Furthermore, as Christians, we should identify more closely with our brothers and sisters around the world than we do with the lost who happen to share our nationality.
Sadly, Bibles like The Patriot’s Bible tend to divide the body of Christ along earthly lines when the text of God’s Word encourages us to be unified in purpose.