I’ve been sensing a lot of angst out there lately from Christians regarding the state of our country. Some are concerned about losing the right to bear arms, some are concerned about the NSA controversy and privacy. Others are very alarmed over the recent IRS scandal. Still others are in shock and dismay over how quickly the tide seems to be turning regarding gay marriage. Many are very concerned about Americans losing certain liberties that we’ve enjoyed for years. And there are always folks who are worried that one political party or another is going to bring this nation down.
My advice? Relax. Please.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the concerns that many are raising are not legitimate. I, too, see things happening in our nation that I do not approve of. And I most certainly believe that we should take advantage of the freedom we have to debate the issues of the day in the public square. We all should be informed about what’s happening in our nation, vote as we see fit, and support causes that we think are good for our nation and fellow citizens. I, myself, have been pretty vocal about my concern for the holocaust called abortion and plan on continuing to express what I think is right.
However, I am concerned that a growing number of Christians are becoming obsessed to a very unhealthy degree with fighting for “our rights” and ranting against certain politicians and political parties and platforms. And I am concerned that it is giving a watching world the impression that we are putting our hopes in government, or a political ideal, or a certain party, or particular legislation. And I suppose some may have unintentionally crossed that line. As they say, “If the shoe fits….”
Related to this, it seems some Christians are operating out of fear and anger which leads to hiding in our Christian bubbles or savaging people who disagree with us. I think either response undermines our responsibility to live out the Great Commission (to preach and make disciples of Jesus) which is actually more important than whether or not the government is listening to my phone calls or whether or not my guns are taken away.
If we are going to enter the political discourse with those we disagree with, can we at least try to remember what the Scriptures say about our interactions with others? Like, “You are the light of the world” and a “city on a hill.” (Matt 5:14). And contrary to what I’ve heard some politicians say America is not what Jesus had in mind. Rather, Jesus is challenging His followers to let that light shine in a way that unbelievers “may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16) And if Jesus calls us to love someone who is about to chop off our head because we are a Christian, (Matt 5:44-45) surely he expects us to love that Republican or Democrat that is getting under our skin.
A verse that is particularly convicting for me is found in 2 Tim 2:24-25 where Paul says, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone… correcting his opponents with gentleness.” Yes, I know Paul is writing this to a pastor but do we really want to say that only pastors are commanded to be “not quarrelsome” and “kind” and “gentle” and all the other Christians can be as cranky and cantankerous as they want when they are debating politics?
I doubt it, especially since the fruit of the Spirit includes kindness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)and if you don’t have the Spirit you’re not a Christian at all. (Rom 8:9) Am I perfect in these areas? No way. I write to you as a fellow sinner struggling and sometimes failing to apply what Christ said to my life. But I yearn to better reflect my Master, and I’m assuming you do too, so my goal is to exhort, encourage, and stir you up for good works. (Heb 10:24)
Finally, let’s remember that our ultimate citizenship and allegiance is not to America. As Christians, we are first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God and our local churches are little embassies, tiny outposts representing a better country.
Our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus Christ and His Gospel, which includes not only a message of hope and forgiveness for sinners, but also a message that Jesus is Emperor of the Cosmos, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. And one day the King will return and overthrow all earthly powers, (even the good ole USA if it’s still around) and establish a good and perfect Kingdom where all of the liberty and all of the justice and all of the goodness you’ve ever desired in a homeland will be present for you to enjoy and all the bad guys will be finally dealt with.
God is determined to make this come to pass. But for now, He is still in the process of making new citizens for this future Kingdom by giving men and women amnesty for their rebellion through the power of the Gospel. And make no mistake, the Gospel will advance throughout the earth no matter who is in charge of what country. Just ask China.
It’s good to love America and want it to be a better nation. As far as earthly nations are concerned, there’s no place I’d rather be a citizen of. I know many believers are rightfully concerned about the direction the country is headed in, but I think more American Christians need to show another face to the culture. Instead of an angry face with clenched fists desperately trying to grab on to what is “ours”, it is time for us to show an increasingly joyful and hopeful spirit. Joyful because in Christ we possess a Treasure more valuable than anything we could gain at the ballot box. Hopeful because we know that despite the things we see happening that grieve us, we know that the world as it is now isn’t all there is. The question is, “Does the world think we really believe this based on how we act?” Are we showing the world the things we preach are true when we dive bomb into despair and depression or fear and anger when our guy didn’t win the election? Or when the political opposition gets it’s way on a given issue?
Hebrews 11 tells us how our spiritual ancestors, Abraham and the patriarchs of old were, “…looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God….having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb 11:10-16)
If you are in Christ, this is your glorious destiny. So even if America is weakened or even destroyed (and one day it will be, one way or another), relax. You’ll be fine. Your true homeland is a much better country and will never be shaken.
Grace and Peace,