Every year many Churches “celebrate” Independence Day in worship services, and with other church related activities. Some have flag strung platforms and echoes of patriotic hymns fill many sanctuaries. Patriotism, and pride in USA are elevated and embraced. The question that has disturbed me more each year, is why?
There are many churches holding to the fundamentals of their faith with steadfast conviction, yet all that is thrown out the window when it comes to Independence Day and the melding of God and country. It is almost as if Jesus died on “Old Glory” rather than an” old rugged cross.”
Let me just say here that there is nothing wrong with patriotic celebration, even I enjoy a good fireworks production. What is so distasteful to me is the whole God and country exceptionalism embrace by the church. The church is not a creation of the american dream. In fact it’s very message is antithetical to the american dream and to american exceptionalism.
The american ideal is to make as much money as we can, get all the things we want, treat others in the world as “less” than we are, and exert our military might wherever, whenever, and however, because of our superpower status. All of this reeks of pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness.
Churches and her members thereof , have an ideal too. It is to reflect Jesus to the world around us. What does that look like? The marks of a Jesus reflecting church or individual are evident, humility, gentleness, helpers to the poor, sick, weak, abused, hungry, and neglected. We are to stand in the gap for those who have not power. We are to promote peace, following after the Prince of Peace. Our goal is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth and our weapon is love. A love the is undying toward God and to our neighbor.
This continual blending of Christianity and American government is creating, or maybe already has created, a religion that is Christian in name only. Maybe the Church has an idol and that idol is a jesus wearing a suit with an american flag lapel pin firmly in place.