Sunday, February 13, 2011

American vs. Christian

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
This is a rather political post. I'm just forewarning you. ;)

“American.” To some Christians, this label is all-important. It’s part of their identity. They sing rousing songs about how they’re “proud to be an American!” Now, I see nothing wrong with liking to live in America. America is awesome. Without America, I wouldn’t be able to run two blogs, both of which have criticized the government. I wouldn’t be free to do what I do best: cause trouble. So it’s not that I don’t love America or that I want America to die or something, far from it.

My concern comes from the fact that American Christians have gotten so lost in identifying themselves as Americans that they’ve forgotten what Christian means. They’ve begun worshipping America to such an extent that they’ve neglected Christ. They’ve managed to put their flag on a pedestal, and forgotten that the only thing they should be doing that with is Him.

To this accusation, some will respond “But America is a Christian nation! So we need to keep it and honor it!” Is America a Christian nation? Can America, with her record of killing and covering it up, of messing in other people’s business, of promoting violent dictators while casting others down and killing innocents…can a nation like that truly be called a Christian one when the Bible states we are not to kill, we are to love the innocent, we are to feed, clothe and nourish even our enemies (Proverbs 5:21)?! When Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself,” did he add the stipulation that if your neighbor hit you, you could hit him back? That if your neighbor made you angry, he was fair game?

I tell you this: that it is impossible for America to be a Christian nation. It is impossible for any country to be “Christian” in that sense. A nation, a collective whole, a government, cannot ascribe to a religion. America’s actions, her government’s actions, show her to be unchristian. If we saw a fellow “Christian” doing half the things America’s government has done, we would run him out of church! We would turn him into the police! But somehow, it is alright for our “Christian” national government to do these things.

Christianity is, by its very definition, an individual pursuit. “Christian” means “like Christ.” How can a government and a collective nation be like Christ unless they give up everything for His sake? They send every resource they have out to the world for free. They open their borders for those who are hurting to come in. If someone attacks them, they respond with the willing grace of a Christian and say, “Hey, by the way, you forgot to come take this.” That is what a Christian nation would look like. But does America look like that? Does America forgive its enemies, bless those that curse it?

America is nothing. America is little lines on a map and a two-hundred year old piece of paper. Now let me introduce you to my God.

He is everything, the sum total of all that is, because He created it. He owns the world, the stars, and the infinite galaxies. It tells us in the Bible that He’s going to fold up the universe like it was a mere blanket. He is eternal, never beginning and never ending. His book is the Word of Life. And most importantly, He died for us. All of that splendor, that majesty, boiled down to mere humanity, all so that could become sin for us.

What is America, in light of that? Absolutely nothing.

The fact is, Christian, that you do not belong to the government. America has no claim on you anymore, not on your soul or thoughts or even your time. All of that belongs to someone way more important: the God of the universe Himself. You don’t even belong to yourself. Your sole pursuit now should be following Jesus Christ, following His commandments.

Many Christians in America today have forgotten what following Jesus Christ really looks like. Jesus didn’t come to us to promise a comfy church pew and manifold blessings. There’s a reason He told people to “take up their cross” and follow Him. The path of following Jesus is a hard one. It’s a narrow one. It’s one of those annoying mountain paths that, as you creep upwards, you just know you’re going to fall off at the slightest misstep. That is what following Jesus is like.

The nationalism many American Christians display is frightening. They put the concerns of their nation above those of their God. They hear of stories of the American military killing Yemeni schoolchildren, and they call it “collateral damage.” Do you think that Jesus Christ is looking down at that and saying “Oh well. Collateral damage. I understand why they had to do that; after all, they’re at war.” Do you think that Jesus Christ hears of children in Iraq and Afghanistan getting blown to bits and says “Oops. Misfire. Oh well. Collateral damage.”

Do you think that when you get to Heaven, Jesus’ first question to you is going to be, “So, did you support your government? Did you support your troops? Was your nation important to you? How ardently did you love your country?”

Or do you think His questions will go, “Did you follow Me? Was your every thought towards Me? Did your heart beat for Me; were your hands and your feet willing to go do great things for Me?”

Remember what following Christ is supposed to be like? None of it consists of nationalistic fervor towards a transitory government. None of it involves the “support” of a military. Christian, you are supposed to abide in Christ. In Christ! You’re supposed to be so wholly consumed with Him that the only thing the world sees is Him. That means speaking up against injustice, going and doing and being everything that He was here. Jesus can’t be here at the moment. But we are here. And what testimony are we setting, what is it that others see? Why is it that in many places in the world, Christian is a synonym for American imperialism? Why is that? Examine yourselves, Christians, and ask why that is!

Imagine what would happen if every professing Christian in America stepped up to the plate, returned to the foot of cross, and begged forgiveness for their hard-heartedness. Then imagine if every one of them stood up, stepped forward, and picked that cross up. Imagine if every one of them started doing instead of just being. Imagine if every one of them adopted a child from Africa, or went to Asia, or prayed for Latin America. Imagine if every one of them got on fire for God and looked to the needs of His Kingdom rather than the needs of America’s kingdom. Close your eyes and imagine what the world would look like.

The world was turned upside down with just two men in Acts. Now imagine what would happen if every professing Christian in America told about Him, lived about Him, breathed about Him. Imagine what would happen if every professing Christian valued Him above their own lives. We would turn this world upside down, inside out, then flip it all back around and set it on fire!

Some say it is too difficult, that the world is too far gone. I don’t believe it. Some say we should cut our losses, sit here in America, and pray for it to not fall to the forces of evil. They forget that we have brothers and sisters in Christ out there, some who have come on the receiving end of America’s wrath. We forget that elsewhere, revival is happening. We forget that we serve the mightiest being in existence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I issue an appeal today, and a challenge. I ask you to search your hearts, to see if these things are true. Don’t go into it with a preconception; don’t mentally decide what you’re going to come up with. Don’t give yourself trite answers which are just as bad as lies, or offer yourself half-baked excuses for behavior around you. Then learn to value “Christian” more than “American.” Learn to look at your country objectively, to see it has faults, and to work around it and beyond it and within it to transform the people who live in it.

Let’s turn this world upside down.


No comments: