There are too many things to write about.
We could dive into more repercussions of the shooting in Charleston, about the radical forgiveness shown by victims’ families to the killer of their loved ones.
The debate over the Confederate flag’s place in South Carolina and the rest of the country rages on, about what symbols mean to different people and what love demands of us.
Almost all of my Facebook friends and Twitter circles have a strong opinion about the Supreme Court’s ruling to make gay marriage legal nationwide.
And of course, we’re in the midst of the United States’ proudest week, in anticipation of Independence Day celebrations around the country.
What’s The Best Way To Celebrate?
I wrote about the dangers of prideful nationalism and what Christians should not celebrate about Independence Day last year. It made for a good conversation about healthy and unhealthy versions of patriotism and what we are made to celebrate more than a temporary nation. (You can read that article here.)
As I’ve thought about these ideas more in the past year, I’ve found other voices to help me think about more angles of the subject. A variety of perspectives helps us all get sharper.
We don’t grow unless we change, and we can’t change unless our current perspectives are challenged by other ones. (tweet that)
Here are some of the articles that have challenged my assumptions about national pride, patriotism, and what it means to be a Christian in the United States of America.
6 Quick Perspectives to Help You Navigate Christianity, American Patriotism, and the Fourth of July
1. “American Christianity: What America Needs Is Kingdom Patriots” – Ronnie Mills
“Some of the most ungospel like conversations can be heard in churches across the nation. Things like, ‘Muslims deserve to die’ or ‘Nuke’em all!’ Recently I heard a man say as he was talking about interrogation of terrorists, something to the effect that he would prefer a terrorist suffer torment during the process. I guess, loving your enemy was simply not an option for him. I’m certainly no pacifist, but clearly there is a difference between just retribution and pleasure in the death of the wicked—something The LORD takes no part in (Ez 18:21-23; 32).
What America needs is less “Christians” focused on their American citizenship and more Christians living out their Heavenly citizenship. If that were to happen, possibly we would see a better America…
What America needs is Christians who are less patriotic about America, and more about Heaven.”
2. “A Generational Gap in American Patriotism” – Katie Reilly
A quick look at the statistics of patriotic Americans by generation.
“When Americans were asked if they think the United States is the greatest country in the world, there were sharp differences in the responses across generations. In total, 48% of Americans believe the United States is the greatest country in the world and 42% believe it is one of the greatest countries in the world, but a significant portion of the Millennial generation responded differently. Just 32% of Millennials believe the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. That number progressively increases among the Gen X (48%), Boomer (50%) and Silent generations (64%). Millennials were also the most likely generation to say America is not the greatest country in the world (11%).”
“American believers should give thanks to God for the blessings of our temporary earthly citizenship, as long as we emphasize blessings of belonging to the eternal, multinational family of God.
When people in our culture are celebrating the benefits of earthly citizenship, American believers should seize the opportunity to communicate solid, biblical teaching on the distinction between earthly and heavenly citizenship.
As American believers express gratitude for this nation, we should be careful not to diminish the value and worth of other nations.”
“Being a good American often becomes synonymous with being a good Christian, which is a false pairing. In fact, sometimes being a good Christian will mean one is radically disloyal to whatever empire they find themselves in…We’ve long been taught that we as a nation are “exceptional” compared to everyone else.
From our earliest years, we’re taught that the United States is the greatest nation in the history of mankind. I don’t mean this metaphorically either– just listen to some of our politicians closely and you’ll hear folks actually say this, repeatedly. In fact, during the last presidential election one of the candidates stated during a debate that the United States remained the “greatest hope for the future of the world”. Instead of simply being appreciative for where we live and appreciative for what we have, we take it a step further and idolize the nation itself, which means that when someone questions this belief system, it feels like blasphemy. We are not the hope of the world– the hope of the world is a man named Jesus, and to suggest differently is nothing short of idolatry.”
5. “America Was Never A Christian Nation, Folks” – Joey Svendsen
This is a more raw, personal reflection on doubting the nation’s moral superiority.
“I think that there are a lot of Christian Republicans that think they are on God’s side. I think there are a lot of Christian Democrats that think they are more like Jesus. I think, if a lot of these political zealots were honest, they’d have to admit that they treat their political platform (or worldly kingdom, you might say) as if it was Jesus’ heavenly kingdom.
America is not like Jesus. We are a bunch of people that need him.”
“Let’s celebrate together on July 4th, but let’s do so with Kingdom lenses on. Enjoy the lights in the sky and the wonderful food. Enjoy the wonderful people of America. But, for those who follow Jesus, how can we subvert tendencies like the idolatry of flag pledges with humility? This, and many other questions that this day raises, will need to be handled with generous love towards those who disagree with us, while not compromising our true Kingdom allegiance.”
Bonus: interesting read by Kurt Willems on how the Revolutionary War was not only unjust, but hypocritical.
What do you think? Which one of those articles was the most helpful for your perspective?
Learn more about the book I’m writing, which dives into some of the complexities of life with the hope that clarity can be found by navigating conflicting ideas. Get updates here.