THE COUNTRY & THE KINGDOM
I am so blessed and happy to live in a country that makes it relatively easy to be a Believer & Follower of Jesus the Christ. I am thankful every day, as a Pastor, that I do not face the persecution and unfathomable struggles that many of my brothers and sisters throughout the world face daily. We are truly blessed, in the United States, to be allowed to “live and let live”…though some of us could use a little more practice.
We, as a nation, have rarely had to face what other Christians around the world face, as tension between the church and the government. Throughout the nations governments and non-Christians resent the fact that a Christian’s allegiance is FIRST given to God, and THEN to the nation. Here in the U.S.A., although it has turned to a more politicized moniker, being a “Christian” is a label with some influence in the greatest circles of power, or at least a relative comfort level within those circles. The same cannot be said for many countries outside of the U.S.
Does that make this a “Christian” country? Although, for some reason, many believe that this nation is a “new Isreal”-type, the nation of the USA is no more “Christian” than Portugal or Australia (as illustrative examples only). There is a flawed belief there were MORE Christians in political leadership at the dawn of this nation than there are now. But all one needs to do is read a little history to find the percentage was probably the same as it is now. And what some of those leaders defined as Christ-like-behavior would shock us today. But there WAS an eager tolerance, in that time, to allow the people of this new country to choose where, when, how or not to worship (unlike the countries from which our colonists came, where religion was forced upon the populace).
Was this nation founded on Christian principals? It would seem so, as many would define Christianity and as many interpret scriptures then and now. But looking at the way some Christians have historically used their faith to justify slavery and aggressive war against other nations, one wonders what the difference is between patriotism and faith. Again, Tzarist Russia (as an example) and Nazi Germany (as another) would have claimed, and DID claim, that theirs were Christian nations: their concepts about government and “who was in and who was out” were argued using the scripture AND the belief that God blessed their efforts and was “on their side”.
This belief in a “Christian” United States has, unfortunately, given some Christians pause. Sometimes the Supreme Court of the United States hands down decisions that make some Christians (not all) shudder. These decisions about marriage, about life before birth, etc. are reminders that this country is simply that…a country. It is not a nation set aside from any other nation, by God, for special “anointing”. It is a country filled with God’s children…like all of the other countries of the world.
And AS God’s children, we understand that our allegiance to God dictates that we pray for, but not worship, our respective countries and their leaders. We realize that our leaders and lawmakers will do things we agree with and some things we don’t agree with. We will agree and disagree with our own Christian brothers and sisters also. As children of God we realize that God and God alone will define what life is, what marriage is, what love is, and who has residency in His Kingdom…many of us would be surprised at His decisions about precisely those things.
Even in the Kingdom, the searching and re-searching of the scripture may lead YOU to define God and other things in ways which might be different from the way I see God. How then can we expect our nation to always agree with what we individually define as “Christian”?
The laws of this country and the laws of God may at times connect, intersect, run parallel and/or conflict. That is the reality of life in this Age. We are promised, however, that in the Age-To-Come, there will be no boundaries, no war, no strangers. There will be One King, one law, and one peace. We’re not there yet, but we will be soon…and for now we need to practice not looking shocked at who else is sitting at God’s table (and not being offended when they are shocked to see us.)
We, as Believers and Followers of the One True God, manifested in Jesus the Promised One, have one agenda: to KNOW God. We have a primary allegiance: to the Almighty Father and His Only Son…and we have one command from Him to follow: love one another as I have loved you.
I love this country, where we celebrate the freedom to worship as we please, we define our faith as we please, we agree or disagree with our country’s leaders as we please. God help me to remember the millions that don’t have this freedom…and help me love the ones who have not chosen the ultimate freedom that comes from knowing God and His Son.
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!
The kingdom of the world has become
The kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed King,
and He will reign forever and ever!