Being Christian Doesn’t Equal Being American

This morning was See You at the Pole.  I’ve participated in these once a year prayer gatherings for many years as a student, a youth pastor, and now a lead pastor.

These are good things.  Prayer is always important.  Waking up early and eating donuts and coffee is fun (well not really, ha except the coffee part!).

The gathering spot is always at the school flag pole, unless it rains right before and it is moved indoors.  At this prayer meeting the stars and stripes becomes the central focus and the prayers of the people are centered around praying for our country.  I get it.  I do believe we should pray for our country and our leaders.  But the whole thing gets off track when we think being a Christian is equated with being an American.  I love being an American.  I do enjoy our freedoms and I’m sure I take them for granted all the time.

But this freedom is not the same as our freedom in Christ.  When we start comparing the blood of American soldiers with the blood of Jesus, we are entering really dangerous waters.

When I read the Gospels, Jesus teachings and sermons, and the letters from Paul, I don’t find anywhere that we should create national borders and pray for God’s blessings over against those of other nations and people who disagree with us.  I can’t help but think about Jesus’ command to love our enemies and pray for those who hate us.

This is not the prayer that I head this morning @ See you at the Pole.

I also can’t help but think about the prayer from Blind Bartimaeus who hears Jesus and shouts, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  After people rebuke him, he shouts even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus asks what he wants.  The blind man says, “Rabbi, I want to see!”

“Go,” said Jesus, “Your faith has healed you.”  He receives his sight and followed Jesus. (Mark 10:47-52)

I used to worship America right along side Jesus.  I loved singing patriotic songs in church.  It was all very emotional.  As I’ve gotten older and really studied the Gospels and as I have become a pastor, I continue to pray, “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  I have received new sight and I now can see that God isn’t contained in the American government and military system.  Violence is not what our faith is about.  Not at all!

God does love Americans…and Brazilians, and Koreans, and Syrians, and Christians, and Jews, and yes even Muslims.  God loves the whole world.  John 3:16

Honestly, I was pretty sad about the prayers I heard this morning.  But this isn’t a post of condemnation.  I used to pray the same things.  This is a challenge for those of us in the American church to put our faith in Jesus Christ, and not the U.S. government.  This is a reminder that Jesus is Lord and Caesar or the President is not.  The United States will not be around forever.  This is O.K.  But the Kingdom of God will last forever.

“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a Sinner!”

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6 thoughts on “Being Christian Doesn’t Equal Being American

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Aaron. It disturbs me when I see an American flag in the sanctuary of a church. All loves, – whether of country, family, friends, profession – are to be subsumed in the great Love.

  2. So, your complaint is that the flag was held in the center by a group of fine young men as prayers were prayed? Or that the way the prayers were prayed were disturbing to you? I guess I don’t quite understand your meaning in this, Aaron. My understanding of the morning was that a group of Christians got together to ask God to move on this nation and be glorified in His creation, always. And we gave thanks for those in combat for us in foreign lands. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for your comment Connie. Mainly the prayer that eludes to the marriage of Americanism and Christianity. And the the idol worship and hope in this country, rather than the God of ALL NATIONS. I also found it disturbing comparing the blood of American soldiers to the blood of Christ. The freedom that both signify are WAAYY different. One is a death to end all deaths, the other is almost a glorification of death and celebration that other enemies were killed along the way. This isn’t the Gospel. The gospel calls us to be people of peace and pray and love our enemies. Americanism and excessive patriotism celebrates the opposite. At least this is my story and how I see the world through the lens of the gospel.
      These are good conversations to have and I don’t like to say I have all the answers by any means.

  3. I guess I missed that. I have attended many of these through the years, particularly the years that I taught at the High School prior to now. And now that I am back at LHS, I was blessed to be in attendance again. I noticed that there were many more students participating, and many more administrators present. I appreciated the turn out and didn’t receive the words as the conflict you mentioned. It has been my understanding that the “See You at the Pole” day was intended to encourage prayer for our nation. In my opinion, it wasn’t to the exclusion of other parts of the world, nor to elevate the nation over the elevation of God. I was grateful to share in the fellowship of other believers. And to share in our common love of God. Sincerely, Connie

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