Friday, August 4, 2017
The Lord says, “People of Israel, you are my servants. People of Jacob, I chose you. You are from the family of my friend Abraham. I took you from places far away on the earth and called you from a faraway country. I said, ‘You are my servants.’ I have chosen you and have not turned against you. So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you. Isaiah 41:8-10(NCV)
God’s promise to Abraham was this: “At the right time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” And that is not all. Rebekah’s sons had the same father, our father Isaac. But before the two boys were born, God told Rebekah, “The older will serve the younger.” This was before the boys had done anything good or bad. God said this so that the one chosen would be chosen because of God’s own plan. He was chosen because he was the one God wanted to call, not because of anything he did. Romans 9:9-12(NCV)
In a recent article my friend and fellow UMC pastor, Drew McIntyre, made the point that Christians who are not careful about it can fall into the trap of patriotism gone bad! This is a condition that occurs when being patriotic (loving your country, because there is an intrinsic goodness in its DNA, such as fairness, justice, and lofty goals, only achievable by self-sacrifice and mercy) turns to nationalism (using the power of a strong government for selfish reasons).
Now, that’s my description of the point; here’s how Drew put it:
Our job as Christians is not, first, to make history turn out right. Let us be known, first, for whose we are, not what we stand against.[ii]
Both Isaiah and the apostle Paul underscore the point that God is not interested in our politics per se; God is rather, working all things together for good(Romans 8:28) that agree with His divine plan, not according to the Republican or Democratic Party platform.
To be a follower of Jesus Christ often means we are called to swim upstream against the rushing water of nationalism, or any other kind of ism that would try to co-opt the faith which was once delivered to the saints(Jude 1:3).
The heavyweight slugfest we are witnessing in the arenas of the American democratic process are at once unsettling, disheartening, unraveling to the peace, uncharitable, disingenuous, arrogant and selfishly dismantling any reason for respect in public discourse. To the Resolute Desk to the Seats of Congress, Fox and CNN, may I say, Ladies and Gentlemen…breathe…please! Just BREATHE! Take a deep breath away from the vitriol, accusations and childishness; the answer to the problem of mudslinging is not more mud!
Godly purpose is never served well with evil deportment! That is not to say God cannot accomplish His purpose, even in the face of evil people and behavior, but should we adopt evil as our methodology for Christ’s mission…or even civil government? I think not, and neither did Paul:
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Romans 6:1(NLT)
If America is to continue (or perhaps more accurately regain) being worthy of patriotic support, it is time to quit all this nationalistic pride and look once again to choosing the way of the cross.
Today I’d like to let my colleague, Drew McIntyre have the last word:
Stick to Jesus. Let him, not your love for or hatred of any Caesar, be your guide.[iii]
[ii] Drew McIntyre, American Gods: On Mamaw’s Faith in Hillbilly Elegy