At the risk of offending a reader or two, I feel the need to go on record and say that God is not an American. You may want to take a couple of deep breaths…Neither is God any other nationality for that matter. God transcends human constraints. We have this nasty habit of trying to recreate God in our image, and our attempts at this practice (called anthropomorphism) hinder our ability to embrace the simple Gospel. In other words we get so busy defending our version of God that we tend to forget that we are the created ones and God is the holy, uncreated one.
Why this matters is being played out in the news on a nearly daily basis. And not only in the news, but in many churches too. We have this idea that our country, an infant by comparison to the history of the civilized world, has somehow garnered the place of God’s focused affection. Last time I checked, some of the most heinous offenses toward God as determined by the Scriptures, are being perpetrated in record numbers right here within the confines of this “Christian nation.”
While it may be true that a majority of people still identify as Christian in polls that ask the question, the reality is that the majority of those same folks practice nothing that would link them to the faith they claim. What has happened over the past several decades is a shift from faith to a civil religion. Nationalism and Christianity have become inseparably linked, to the detriment of both.
There is no position on the hot topic of immigration being presented here. This is not an effort to lean one way or the other about the recent events in Helsinki. There is absolutely no hidden political meaning in these words. In fact, it is just the opposite. There is a need to take the political talk out of the realm of faith altogether. Much of what is dividing our people in this country today will be argued for a long time by people far more versed in those issues than I am. My contribution there is minimal, at best, so I try to keep my opinions about those matters to myself.
I am addressing a corruption of the very Gospel we are called to uphold. When we mistake nationalism for faith, or patriotism for commitment, or partisanship for discipleship, we have made a tragic departure from the mission of the church. We are called to be and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Such a call transcends nationality, borders, socio-economic lines, and partisan ideologies. Our citizenship is in heaven, not in this present world, and as members of God’s kingdom our zeal should be centered around living out our faith, and finding meaningful and demonstrative ways to express our love for the rest of our fellow humans.