Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Christian Nation Mythology

I’m just looking around Facebook this morning, as I have a love to read people’s status updates. I come across a particular status update that is interesting. Someone is apparently offended by President Obama saying that we are not a Christian Nation and calls us to repentance. There is a ton wrapped up in this statement and reaction towards it that needs to be explored. As much as it pained me to post this ugly picture, one that makes my skin crawl more than proud to be an American, I posted it anyways to stir about emotions that I will attempt to explore in this short passage. Country music is full of it, songs that talk about America as if it were Jesus’ hope for the world as a nation. That sentence is almost blasphemous I’d say. Then you get into pictures like the one above, Jesus being transposed in front of what we would like Him to be, an American or pro-American. Call me unpatriotic or whatever other names you’d like, but I don’t think America is exactly the idea Jesus had in mind f a great Christian nation. If you take a brief look through the New Testament you will see a theme of the little guys slipping the system of oppression, the Roman Empire on its head with the Gospel. The Roman Empire is looked at as evil and corrupt. I would venture to say that the country of America is bigger and more advanced that Rome ever dreamed of being. We call ourselves a country instead of a world empire, but I think it is safe to say that we are indeed a huge empire! Jesus doesn’t want our allegiance with any empire other than His kingdom. Many will shake their heads in agreement with this, while still believing in this American dream or that America is the light of hope for the world as a nation. (There is great book called Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell & Don Golden you should read if this interests you enough to read more on)

So President Obama says America is not a Christian nation….big deal! It’s not, it never was intended to be. Let’s do a little history and ask ourselves some pretty elementary questions first… Why did the Pilgrims begin these colonies of New England? The early documents were filled with words like God, Amen, Glory of God, etc. These early pioneers were Christian. Did they come to this far away country in order to start a nation that would be only a Christian nation though? The answer is no, whether that hurts your feelings or not, the truth is America was started as an escape from an oppressive English government and the Catholic Church. These travelers came far across the sea in order to find a place where they could be free to worship their God however they wanted. Some how along the road the choice and freedom of religion was forgotten and we started using the term Christian nation. So many churches and well meaning Christians run around praying for the country to repent and return to their Christian beginnings, but I think these prayers come out of a misunderstanding. Are we praying from the stance that we want everyone to become like us, we want a government to operate from the position of Christianity, we spend hours in prayer to change the nation, all the while being in the middle of neighborhoods ridiculed with poverty and pain. We want the big picture to be so ideal that we miss and overlook the little things, right under our noses.

Should we be a Christian nation because our President says so? Should we even be worried about our entire nation being Christian? Honestly, part of the tragedy of America is that everyone claims to be Christian. There is this understanding that if you are American you are Christian. Christian and American are not synonymous! We live in the most powerful and influential empire of our known world, to push our religion or practices upon others in an attempt to conform a nation to one view absolutely contradicts the reason for America. It is the freedom that is so beautiful about America, freedom to be Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Atheist, or anything else you’d like to be. This is not to say people need not hear about Jesus. Our lives should be so changed by Him and His Spirit that we naturally speak about Him in our everyday lives. That begins to change the way things look right? Instead of praying for a Christian nation we begin praying for our coworkers, people that hang out in the same coffee shops that we do, our family, our fellow students, etc. We start caring about what we can touch instead of this big idealistic euphoria of a Christian nation. When I think of an entire nation being deemed on religion I think of oppression, I think of what Constantine did, killing those who opposed Christianity, I think of the oppression of the early Christians by Rome. So the question you have to answer for yourself today is, “Do I want a Christian nation?” What are your motives behind this desire? If you want an entire nation to be Christian I can only imagine you are extremely involved in your local community. I say the American flag that we tattooed on Jesus needs to be ripped off in order that His true radiance can be seen, the freedom of His mercy can be felt, and His Spirit can move. When Jesus told us to go and make disciples, He meant as we go, like on our normal everyday lives, as we live, I don’t think He ever intended to see a nation become Christian, that will only happen in eternity, one eternal kingdom with Christ!

Again, just wanted to reiterate how much I dislike this picture! It was only to make a point...

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