Monday, March 5, 2012

For God, Not So Much For Country

Since I was a little kid there has been no question that God and my country were linked. I was convinced that my duty was to God and then "Uh-MER'-kuh". I truly believed that God had given this country to those who sought freedom from oppression and those oppressed people were Bible-believing Christians. I remember church services around 4th of July when we'd sing nationalist songs such as, "God Bless America" and the Star Spangled Banner. It freaked me out to see people raising their hands and worshiping the same as if we were singing Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus. When did America become God's HQ for salvation and hope for the world? And when did it become acceptable for church to look like this? For a while, I tried to understand the logic and swallowed the bitter pill of conformity. I still had that inkling that something was wrong, but under my parents' roof and at their church I felt a lot of pressure to maintain the status quo (plus, I worked overnights and was sleeping during Sunday morning service). Strangely enough, it wasn't until I found a Christian group that I agreed with- at least I thought I did, that I realized what was wrong. They call themselves, "The Christian Left" and proclaim to be the liberal contingent of Christians in America. Now, I love the folks at TCL so please don't go bashing them, because I truly believe they want to do what God has called them to do. Shortly after getting all excited about discovering them, I was reading Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, and I realized that a major problem with the American Church is that politics has corrupted and corroded our sense of purpose as followers of Jesus. TCL, for all the good that it attempts to do, is tangled in the same messy business as the fundamentalist Christians are - politics!

I'm not asking for you all to become anti-American cynics blasting Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan in your trailer at some peace-commune. Please, don't think that I'm throwing myself in with the hippy cult-like "Christian" movements that cropped up in the '60s.

There are too many negative stereotypes surrounding this image.

And frankly I think it's quite appalling if we can't be a little more creative than to go from one stereotypical image to another. If we really want to be counter-cultural Jesus followers, the counter-cultural action has to start with the heart and mind. My personal conviction (read: what I believe I should practice) is that followers of Jesus are to live in peace with the government, not getting involved in the affairs of State so long as the State does not require you to do something against the teachings of Christ and His disciples.

I've now covered my feelings on violence: personal acts, mentality and the cycle, and military service. Though I'm probably still going to go on tangents about nationalism in future blogs (which often happens when I talk about violence), this entry should cover most of my thoughts on the subject. In addition to the book mentioned aboved, I would suggest the following for further reading:

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis

Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller

Peace that surpasses all understanding,

Image sources:
God and Country picture
Hippy picture

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