God and Country

By | August 15, 2010

Last week I was at an outdoor church service. They did communion and during this time, they put various “color” shots up on the video screen. (“Color” is lingo for camera shots of scenery, settings, objects, etc., which are nice backgrounds but aren’t the main programming.) During communion I noticed that they put up a couple of shots of the American flag. I realize that most people would think this was nice and not see the least problem with it—in fact they are likely to think this is a good thing. However it greatly disturbed me.

To me, displaying the American flag prominently during communion was a sign of just how highly we American Christians think of our country. While I imagine few people consciously think this, it’s like we put United States up next to God. We have two saviors: Jesus Christ and Uncle Sam. Jesus saves us so we can go to heaven, and Uncle Sam saves us from all the rest of the people in the world, so that we can live this life prosperously and comfortably.

Also, there is the idea that we’re better off as Christians by living in the U.S. It seems we feel that we can better follow God in America than anywhere else. I’ve blogged about it before, but we think too much of our government’s abilities. We aren’t supposed to get the government to do what we as Christians are supposed to be doing. What we do as Christians isn’t dependent on the government; we are to live our lives following Christ regardless of what government we find ourselves under.

Years ago foreign missionaries were kicked out of China and no churches were allowed except for the official state church (which basically just had the outward rituals of religion without any real substance). Christians from the West expected the church in China to be decimated. Many years later when foreign Christians were allowed to return to a limited extent, they expected to find few Christians left because of the persecution. However what they discovered was that actually the exact opposite had happened—the church had exploded! The point is that the church and Christians aren’t dependent on governmentally protected freedoms and may actually thrive more (at least not less) under restrictive circumstances as opposed to circumstances with few challenges.

For the record, I am not anti-American. I am thankful that I am free to be a Christian without fear of imprisonment, etc. I vote in elections. I do so—and even do some writing—because I want to see the U.S. improve and go in the right direction. But U.S. won’t save people or make them truly free.

Do you hold the importance of the United States (or your own country if not the U.S.) higher than you should? Is it as important or more important to you than God? How much are you willing to sacrifice for your country? How much are you willing to sacrifice for God? Are you willing to risk death for God or for the U.S. or both? How much do you pay in taxes (sales tax included!)? How much do you spend showing God’s love to others by giving to those in need?

photo credit: Waving Flag via photopin (license)

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